Monday, August 6, 2012



 - Stolen from BGG

About a year ago, my best friend and I had a Bacchanalian weekend full of Manoeuvre, culminating in our starting to break apart the game quantitatively, as a step towards handicapping the different armies in very precise ways. Well, as so many of these sort of projects go, we never got back to it after that first big push. So, rather than wait to make further progress that will never happen, I'm going to just share the spreadsheet we created with the community. While we didn't get to finish our full analysis, I think you will find even the raw data very worthwhile:

A few high-level takeaways from our work are below. I don't claim to be a super expert, but I have played a couple/few dozen games and won a tournament at GMT West a year or two ago:
1. There is a fairly clear pecking order between the different armies, in a few different groupings. We sensed this pretty accurately during play, but looking at it quantitatively added more depth and concreteness, along with some surprises, to the assessment:
(In order, the below numbers are averages representing: Full Strength per Unit, Reduced Strength per Unit, Movement per Turn, Attack, Defense):
France - 6.625, 3.75, 1.25, 7.5625, 5.2
Great Britain - 6.625, 3.375, 1.25, 7.625, 5.225
Note: France is just a hair better, but these two are evenly matched. Neither has a weakness, and they are significantly better than all the other powers.
Russia - 6.25, 4.875, 1.25, 6.75, 4.9231
Note: A strong third that is a clear step better than those below it, the Russians are incredible resilient (far the best Reduced Strength of any army) makes them one of the most fun powers to use (along with the Ottomans) to try extreme tactical approaches that are optimized for them specifically.
Ottoman Empire - 6.625, 3.5, 1.5, 6.5625, 3.825
Prussia - 6, 3.5, 1.25, 7.0313, 4.55
Note: The Ottomans are a blast to play with all their cavalry and an extremely strong and straightforward hand of cards. They also have a strong Full Strength army. Prussia is fairly balanced - albeit a little weak on Full Strength - but have two strong cavalry that can create big problems when used well.
Spain - 6.125, 3.875, 1.25, 5.8438, 5.225
Austrian Empire - 6.25, 3.25, 1.25, 6.0294, 4.05
United States - 6, 3.375, 1.125, 6.2188, 4.525
Note: These three are all miserable, with no notable strengths. Spain's best asset is their defense (both in rating and redoubt cards); Austria is the most plain-vanilla army in the game with little of distinction; the United States is just plain awful. Although, playing their Ambush cards can prove enjoyable!
We wanted to do a formal handicapping of the armies to allow for ongoing competitive play, but it really requires quantitively interpreting the HQ cards which we did not get around to. It would be a great project for someone else to pick up.

2. The best general strategy around playing your cards is to cycle through them as quickly as possible. Of course there are times when you want to coordinate a couple of cards for a decisive and critical attack. But in general, the more you are "doing" the better off you will be.
   When you draw two or three cards for that weak infantry sitting in A2 (chess notation) and there are no antagonists one or two squares away, just discard them and try to get cards more relevant to the action. Not only are you wasting moves and meaningful opportunities for tactical manoeuvre if you try to bring them up for an attack, not only are you "blocking" yourself from drawing cards that might correlate to more vital pieces that can have an immediate impact and cause trouble for your opponent, but you will almost certainly not succeed with your lumbering attack.
   Why? Because any opponent with a pulse is going to catch on to your slow advance and know you are coming up to use attack cards! Thus, they will be prepared for your attack and likely negate it in one way or another. Why bother?
   The beauty of cycling through cards is that a much higher percentage of your plays cause trouble for your opponents and make them worry about countering you as opposed to executing their plan. In addition, by cycling through the deck quickly you get ANOTHER PULL at the deck. Whereas a slow-moving opponent will only get a maximum of five unit cards for their best piece, if you get into your deck a second time you will get up to TEN cards for your best unit!
   Sure, you get more cards for your weak units as well. But since you're cycling quickly, you really don't care. I've heard some players talk about the "advantage" of being the last to exhaust your deck, to be able to "decide" when nightfall happens. Rubbish. As Sun Tzu said, "Opportunities multiply as they are seized." Plodding through the deck - especially at the end of the game - is going to leave you vulnerable to being outmanoeuvred, turn after turn after turn.

3. Cavalry with good Pursuit numbers are devastating. Not visible in the above analysis is the impact of Pursuit (France and Great Britain are the strongest here, then Prussia, then Ottoman, then Austria. The cavalry of the other armies all have inconsequential pursuit numbers.
   Why is Pursuit such a Big Deal? A good player in this game will "feint" smartly, positioning themselves to take attacks that are under 2-to-1 and retreat, in order to force their attacker into a poor board position where there can be a better counter-attack. Cards with a pursuit of 1-4 or 1-3 (and, to a lesser degree, 1-2) make it much harder to retreat strategically. It forces the defender to stand and fight more often (weakened, no less).
   This is another aspect we wanted to better quantify. The math wouldn't be too difficult but would also need to incorporate the two movement of the cavalry as well (making strong Pursuits even more powerful) in order to compare a pursuit attack with a conventional attack.

4. Unless you're a good, experienced player, beware of redoubts. I'm quite convinced redoubts are the worst card in the game for most players, unless you're lucky enough to draw them toward the end of your deck when nightfall is approaching in order to entrench. People treat redoubts like they have Superglue on them. Once a redoubt is down, players feel compelled to "stick" the unit in them, not wanting to "waste" the defense. This can be a big problem, for a few reasons:
   - Players hold the cards for the unit in the redoubt for DEFENSE purposes, hoping to "surprise" an attacker and flip them on an attack. The problem is, most players simply ignore the unit in the redoubt for much of the game, targeting more accessible units instead. That means that cards for the unit in the redoubt are jamming up the hand of the player and preventing their other units from making attacks. At some point, they will get frustrated and just attack out, thus losing the redoubt. They should have simply done that from the beginning.
   - Players don't take advantage of holes in their opponent's lines that simply stepping out of the redoubt would create. "Cannot. Leave. Redoubt." Even with experienced players, I've found I can treat the redoubt largely like a lake square and leave gaping holes in my back lines. Sure, you can't get too cocky and get 3-way surrounded including the redoubt (that can get ugly) but other than putting yourself in position for a coordinated attack, in my experience you can march around the redoubt as if it were a stump in the ground and it is unusual the opponent makes you pay for it.
   - The redoubt is a magnet for an OVER attack. Opponents will see a redoubt and treat it like a magnet for a coordinated attack. Before long, that +3 defense bonus is bloodily negated as two or three units attack in unison, hitting it a lot harder than they even need to. Why? Because the redoubt LOOKS intimidating. Sure, the +3 makes a difference, but the psychological impact on inexperienced attackers has a much greater impact. It is usually an either/or, so if your opponent isn't just ignoring your redoubt for a while (typically more experienced players), they are coming after it with enough firepower to potentially do a lot more than just flip your unit (typically inexperienced players).
Personally, I generally use the redoubt as a blind, either attacking out of it if the opponent is ignoring me, or proactively attacking with that unit or others if the opponent is subtly trying to knock me out.

Alright, that's all the Manoeuvre strategy I have in me tonight. I hope you find the spreadsheet worthwhile, and your mileage may vary on my strategy points. While I believe everything I said, the emphasis and sarcasm is for your entertainment purposes only.
I won't claim to be the best Manoeuvre player (still sitting at 4 wins and 5 losses), but the fact that this game baffles me a bit has me thinking about it a lot. One of the critical elements to master is proper hand management. Unlike many other card-driven games, your Manoeuvre turn starts with a discard phase in which you can ditch up to your entire five-card hand to pull new ones from your deck. This element is made more interesting by the nightfall rule. If one player fails to kill five of his opponent's units, the game ends when the second player exhausts his deck. The first, once he's cycled through everything, just reshuffles and keeps going. If you add the optional "experienced/optional" rule, then there's even more to consider; you get to run through your deck at setup and pick your starting hand.
Manoeuvre DeckAll of this begs the question: is it usually better to play your hand conservatively, letting the cards dictate your movements on the board, or is it better to play the hand aggressively, and discard often to pick up the best cards? After reflection and discussion with Mike, Dad, and Joe, I don't think this is really an either/or thing. Instead, it's dictated by the situation and what country you're playing. Certain countries are more defensive in nature, and it seems best to set up good defensive positions and hold onto cards for those units. On the other hand, there are countries that really benefit from aggressive play and lots of discarding (the Ottomans, specifically, with all their cavalry and pursuit rolls). With these considerations in mind, here are a few of my thoughts:
 * Early Game: If you're playing with the "pick your starting hand" rule, pick a hand that will allow you to knock out an enemy unit quickly. This offers you more options while making some of your opponent's cards worthless. Once you've done that, usually it's time to discard quickly and set up a few more nasty assaults with your strong units.
 * Mid Game: If you find yourself ahead on the unit kill count, continue to discard aggressively and go for the attrition win. If you've suffered some losses, slow it down and discard more carefully. If he over-extends himself, it's time to discard aggressively again and counterattack.
 * Late Game: Much like the mid-game, if you find yourself ahead by quite a few units, go for the attrition win. However, if it's a close run thing, position yourself to control the most squares; this usually means not discarding as much. If this is the case, this will allow you to control the end of the game (when, as the second player, you reach the bottom of your deck).
There is also a strong relationship between hand management and initial placement. This was pointed out to me in a BGG thread; essentially the author's strategy is to place weaker units in the back row and discard any of their cards when they come up. This strikes me as sensible--less agonizing over what to discard early on. I'd love to hear comments on this--Manoeuvre is definitely a game I'm still learning.
Margin of Victory blog
Well, there are not so many startegy posts here, so I'll try to point out what I've learned from my several Manoeuvre plays.
Keep in mind that I could be wrong, so feel free to add your own experience!
Setup strategy for all nationality EXCEPT Ottomans and armies facing Ottomans:
As a rule of thumb placing units on the row closer to the middle of the map is good: in that way you are closer to the zone where points are awarded at the end of the game if night falls.
If I'm going first and thus I place units first, I'll try to move units as fast as possible and make them sit in good terrain, such as villages and hills in the middle of the map. Soon those places will be heavily contested, so gaining the upper hand is good! Plus, if you're able to entrench there, that can only be better.
I often use forced marches and supply as a way to move additional units and faster than my opponent, BUT don't overstretch yourself!
Moving a calvalry 3 squares can be dangerous, even if you moved on good terrain. It will take a LONG time to reinforce it, and the opponent will soon attack it from many sides. I've lost MANY units in this way, so be careful. Cavalry don't have good defensive cards, and are your best tool for attacking and eliminating units ( thanks to their pursuit rolls ), so keeping them on the defensive is both a waste and a risk of losing your unit due to the lack of good defesive cards.
I don't use to place ALL the 8 units on the "front" line, I often keep two of them as "reserve", to fill in the gaps or ( hopefully ) exploit the gaps my cavalry will create, so often I place them at right behind horses ( that can be dangerous in other ways, though! Dung anyone? ).
Ottomans are quite different to play with and against. Their extra cavalry makes them VERY fast and able to encircle, fill in gaps, conquer key terrain and roam in the enemy territory, so I like to put all the 8 units in the front line.
I use this same strategy to oppose Ottomans, creating a line of 8 pieces hoping to soak up the enemy's attacks and not conceding gaps in my line.
Feel free to add your own opinions!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Egizia - how to teach

[Lifted from BGG]

Author: adam.skinner
This article is intended to act as a template for game instructors teaching Egizia. While not exhaustively comprehensive, it touches on every core component of the game, and introduces them in a way that will flow naturally. By the end of this script, you and your listeners should have a fairly firm grasp on the core components and, more importantly, how they interact with one another. Use it as a guide, and illustrate this text by pointing out the relevant sections of the game board as they are mentioned.


In Egizia, each player acts as the manager of a construction crew. During your 5 day work week, you pole your way down the Nile river, picking up workers, dropping your crew members off to work, and maybe making pit stops along the way to do some R&D.

Of course, your workers need to be fed every day. They also need to be provided with raw materials to work with in their construction tasks. To this end, as you travel down the Nile, you should make stops to ensure that your production of food meets the needs of your workers by taking Field cards. To ensure your workers have enough raw materials to work with, you will take Quarry cards, which will increase your supply of stone every day.

As your ship floats down the Nile, you will stop at various docks. On one side of the river, there are 10 docks that have cards placed on them. When you stop there, you take the card at that dock. This card may by an additional Quarry or Field, may give you more workers, or may give you special immediateanytime, or permanent effects.Permanent effects alter the basic parameters of the game for you, allowing you to break rules or giving you certain other passive advantages. Immediate cards give you an immediate benefit, and must be acted upon when you take the card. Anytime cards are just like immediate cards, only they can be used at any time.

On the other side of the river, there are docks with set effects printed on the game board. Most of these do one of two things: add workers to your construction crews, or put your crews to work.

Construction crews

Each player has 4 different construction crews, each differentiated by the color of their uniform. One of these 4 crews acts as a floater (also known as the Joker), and helps out one of the other crews each day as needed. There are a few set stops on the Nile that allow you to add workers to your crews. One stop may add a blue and a yellow worker, while another may add a brown and a yellow worker. It behooves you to increase one of your construction crews more than the others, since you can only drop one crew off at each work location on the Nile.

It's great to have lots of workers, but if you can't feed them then you start to lose victory points each turn. And if you don't have enough stone to supply them with, then they can't do their job.

Construction sites

Speaking of their job, there are 3 sites along that side of the river for them to work at: the Graves & Obelisk, the Temple & Pyramid, and the Sphinx. If you drop your workers off at the Graves & Obelisk, they can work on both the Graves and the Obelisk as much as they like. But you can only assign one work crew to work there, and they can only do so much in a day. As their manager, you also need to think about how you're going to allocate your limited resources of stone to them: you may not have enough stone to do everything you'd like to do at all of your work sites. The floating crew may accompany any of the other crews, but may not operate by itself.

The Graves is a set of burial mounds, each requiring a certain amount of stone to complete. Grave tiles must be built in order, following the arrows on the board, and are randomized and placed face down on the grave sites. At the strart of the game, the first 4 are revealed. Each time a grave is completed, the next unrevealed grave tile is flipped over, so that there are always 4 revealed grave tiles in play. When you complete a grave, you score victory points according to the amount of stone you used to complete it and take the grave marker. At the end of the game, you may score bonus points depending on how much stone you used at the Graves site.

The Obelisk is the secondary location at this build site. It allows you to use excess stone to contribute to increasing the size of the obelisk. Each level requires one more stone that the level prior to it. By using this in combination with The Graves, you can be more efficient with your workers. There is no bonus associated with building at the obelisk.

When building The Pyramid, you build from left to right along each level, scoring points depending on the amount of stone you contributed to build each block. To build a block on the higher levels, both blocks immediately below it must be built. In this way, you may build higher levels without completing lower levels fully. However, when a level is fully completed, the player who completed the most blocks on that level scores bonus points according to the number of blocks that he completed. So on the first level, if you contributed the most blocks by completing 3 total blocks on that level, you score 3 extra victory points when the level is completed. Since there are fewer blocks on each level as the pyramid gets higher, the bonus decreases, but the amount of stone increases per block, making the higher blocks more valuable by themselves. Ties are broken in the Pyramid by looking at who placed first on that row. 

The secondary location at this site is The Temple. There are no bonuses associated with this site. The outside walls must be completed from bottom to top, and both of them must be fully completed before the central pillars can be worked on. As with everything else, you score victory points based on the amount of stone you contribute.

The Sphinx is a little different from the rest of the build sites. Contributing stone here allows you to draw a number of Sphinx cards equal to the amount of stone you contribute (max 5). You get to look at all of these cards, each of which may score you bonus points at the end of the game if you fulfill their conditions. You may keep one of the cards, and return the others to the bottom of the pile. You then score one victory point for each card returned. Sphinx cards are very important, because they can give your play a direction. Fulfilled Sphinx cards score you victory points at the end of the game, as opposed to immediately. This is important because it allows you to hang back on the scoring track, which directly influences turn order.

If you build at the construction sites on a given day, you will get bonus points as follows:

1 site: 1 point 
2 sites: 3 points 
3 sites: 6 points 

Additionally, you may dock at a build location as a "prospector". There will always be one less space to build than the number of players in the game (so in a 3 player game, only 2 players can build at a given location). However, if you decide to prospect, if one of the other players decides that they do not want to build, you may build there. This is essentially "calling their bluff".

Turn order and the river

The player who is farthest back on the scoring track goes first when selecting where to dock. This added tempo is not insignificant, since competition can be fierce for both cards and build sites. Your choice of where to dock is directly influenced by where you expect the other players to go, since only one person can dock at each location per day. Additionally, *you can only move downstream*. So if you stop at the 7th dock on the first turn, only the 8th and beyond are available to you thereafter; you have forsaken the docks prior to that for today. This makes dock selection delectable and unpredictable, to a certain extent, since you don't know for sure where they other players will be going, especially if there choices are being influenced by unknown Sphinx cards.

There are 3 decks of cards used to fill the card side of the river: a deck for days 1 and 2, a deck for days 3 and 4, and a deck for day 5 (the last day). These cards grow increasingly more powerful as you move from deck to deck. Some of the cards are removed from each deck at the beginning of the game, so you never know for sure what's going to come out. And since they're in a randomly assigned order on the river, they can heavily impact your decision on where and when to dock.

When scoring points, the person who's ahead scores first, and then other people stack behind him if they land on the same place on the scoring track. The person at the back of this stack gets preference for turn order and final scoring.

Feeding your workers

One thing I haven't spoken about in detail yet is feeding your workers. Each of the 4 crews has a certain number of workers, and you need to feed them every day. This is done by acquiring fields from the card side of the river. There are 3 classes of fields: lushnormal, and dry. There's also a water ring marker that indicates the level of irrigation on that day. Lush fields are always irrigated, and hence will always provide food. Normal fields need to have the irrigation marker on the normal or dry space to be irrigated. Dryfields need to have the irrigation marker on the dry space to produce food for your workers that day.

So how does this irrigation marker get moved from one space to another? Well, there are two docks on the non-card side of the river that allow you to move the marker one space in either direction. They both do the same thing (move the irrigation marker and increase your floating laborers by one), but one is mid-way down the Nile, and the other is at the very end of the Nile. In addition, the permanent card which allows you to place your boat on an already-taken space doesn't work on this last space (so getting there first can be quite powerful in screwing others/preventing screwage).

And what happens if you do get screwed and can't feed your workers? Well, we have a food track for that, and where you are on that track tells us what your penalty is. It ranges from losing 3 victory points for each worker you cannot feed to losing 1 victory point per worker. When you get to the bottom of this track, you score 2 victory points. Any time you move down from there, you score an additional 2 victory points. You can move down on this track by building in the Graves & Obelisk area, by selecting a card which gives you that effect, or by selecting the first space of the non-card side of the river (the "Edfu" space), which moves you down one space on both the food track and stone track.


As I mentioned earlier, stones are the resource your workers use to contribute to the various construction works. Each turn, you accumulate stone according to your production. By claiming a stone card, your production of stone will be increased each turn by that amount. You can also increase your stone reserves by moving to the last space on the stone track (which gives you 3 stone immediately) or by selecting the "Increase any work crew by one and gain 2 stone" space on the non-card side of the river. Moving down on the stone track when you're already at the bottom of it yields 3 stone as well. Please note that when you build in the Graves & Obelisk area, you can choose to move down on the stone track, which can potentially give you more stone to build with in the Pyramid & Temple work area. Stone is held over day to day, unlike food. You can accumulate up to 24 stone at a time during the course of play.


You accumulate victory points by:

* having your workers build at one of the construction sites
* scoring bonuses at the construction sites
* scoring bonuses for building at more than one construction site per turn
* moving down the food track
* having leftover stone, provided you're far enough down the stone track (2 stone yields 1 vp then)
* meeting the conditions of a Sphinx card
* choosing a card that gives immediate bonus victory points (like the dry field cards)

To build at a construction site, you need both workers and stone.
You get stone by claiming stone cards, by moving down the stone track, and by docking at the "Alyi" dock.
You get workers primarily by using the non-card side docks, though some cards allow you to increase workers too.
You feed workers using field cards, which are dependent on the position of the irrigation marker.


* There is a clear relationship between the number of victory points you acquire through building and the amount of stone you spend. This is basically 1:1, though bonuses may increase this slightly.
* Workers and stone are your basic "engine" for this game. The more of both of these resources you have, the more you can build in a turn, and the more victory points you can acquire.
* This engine is supported by your food supply. Shorting yourself on food is generally a bad idea, but if you put your workers to full use you may come out ahead via building and end game bonuses.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saint Petersburg - A Redux

Lifted from BGG:

Author: CrankyPants

[The previous post is] A very nice summary that addresses a lot of the complexities of the game. Beginners seem to view this game as very random -- but repeat playings reveal subtle strategies. Winning is not about making a grand dramatic push for victory but is about making a lot of little, correct decisions that compound on one another.

One thing you didn't go into was hand management. I find this a critical consideration and something often overlooked and incorrectly used by beginners.

Do take upgrades into hand instead of buying them outright. You earn nothing at the end of the Upgrade phase and will need your money going into the worker phase. 

Don't play a card from your hand out of phase. Example: Don't play an aristocrat from your hand during the building phase. You might find that the money you just spent could be used to get you a better aristocrat when the cards fall and if not, then you can still play it before it's scored.

Don't pack your hand. Put cards into your hand that you know you can play within the next round or two. Only fill your hand to 3 cards if you plan on playing one within the next phase or 2. Yes, that Mistress of Ceremonies sure is gorgeous but if you can't know with certainty that you can play her next round you will spend the game missing other opportunities waiting to get her out. When you have a full hand, you have lost one of your key resources -- card management. 

Do pick up cards that help you get a card in the next phase. If you're playing 4th in the next phase and there's 3 open card slots on the board, pick up something cheap to give you a chance at a card. This is especially important going into the worker phase. Likewise, if you choose first, try to set yourself up with 2 choices by opening up one card slot more than the number of players.

Do pick up aristocrat upgrades. Buy them outright if you can but the key to getting a lot of aristocrats is to buy duplicates of the basics and then upgrade. Use your hand to ensure that you have upgrades available to you. This is a particularly tricky one to handle since you need to consider the other aspects of hand management. Picking up the Czar on round one is probably a bad idea since you've resigned yourself to two open slots in your hand for the majority of the game -- however, there is a correct time to pick up the czar for an endgame play. Experience is all that can really teach you that.

Do buy the warehouse if it comes out early. Unless the 2 rubles is critical to you this turn, the extra hand space is invaluable.

Don't be afraid to discard a card that you draw with the observatory. It's one of the hardest things to do. You'll think, "I sacrificed a VP to draw this and it's mine exclusively!" If that card violates the other guidelines stated above, you'll regret it. Play it or chuck it.

There's obviously room to debate these assertions and exceptions to them all but I've found that they serve me well.

Saint Petersburg

Lifted from BGG

Author: SebastienBoisson
Okay, I might not be an expert, but I'm hovering between twentieth and fiftieth on BrettSpielWelt. I wanted to reply to some people that are struggling with improving at this game.

I noticed that many of these "strategy" guides consist of a list of rules. The problem with rules is that you will never play really well using them. You'll never play better than the person who discovered them. I believe that rules kill creative, intelligent play and the sense of discovery. You'd just be stuck applying rules you don't understand.

Instead of rules, I'm going to try to explain the key ideas behind the game, and then relate those to actual gameplay. This kind of analysis is still useful when you become an expert. And while you get there, hopefully they get you thinking about what's going through my head while I play.

Key ideas:
1. The beginning of the game is about maximizing income; the end of the game is about maximizing victory points.
- that's why you must try to get as many workers as possible in the first two rounds
- that's why you should avoid building buildings in the first two rounds--even a 1-ruble pub can cost you the game!
- that's why you want to build big aristocrats in the first round (but ask yourself: does this aristocrat mean I'll get to build one less worker? Will this aristocrat produce as much income as the worker I'll lose?)
- Early in the game, the best upgrades are those that increase your cash flow. Late in the game, you want those that increase points. I don't understand why some players don't value a first-round bank -- it is usually the best upgrade.
- On the second last turn, you will usually focus on buildings because that's when you're getting a great deal: 3 rubles for 2 points, and those rubles can't really be used to generate much cash.

2. How many buildings to take in the first round of a 2 player game.
- Notice how this is my second point-- it's a very important point that even good players don't get right.
- The first thing to check is whether you're going to draw the first worker in round two-- if so, you want to expose an odd number of nobles, otherwise you want an even number.
- If you are drawing nobles first, you must expose at least one noble, but you would like to have as many exposed as possible. That means, if you expose one, and your opponent exposes a second, you should consider exposing a third, but never bother exposing a fourth.
- If you are drawing nobles second, you usually want to expose another noble (the case where you might not is where you will draw the first worker and the first upgrade). Almost never draw a fourth.
- Make sure your hand doesn't get too full. If you exposed a card by just building a pub or a warehouse, then you have freedom to expose more cards. This is why the warehouse is a great first round building (potemkin village is better unless you know you will want to take a lot of cards)

3. How many cards to take in the first upgrade round of a 2 player game:
- This is another bit of opening strategy that is critical
- The main goal is to get more workers than your opponent or at least as many
- If you know that he has in his hand a bank, or mistress that he wasn't able to build, you would like to delay allowing him to build it in round 2 by forcing him to buy two workers instead of one
- How do you accomplish these goals? Figure out how much money he has. Get used to doing this and you will be able to do this quickly in your head.
- This part can be very probabilistic: e.g., if he is picking workers first and has 6 rubles (common after building a mistress with the 6,7 workers) and a full hand while you have 12 rubles, it's a good move to expose three workers; he might get 2 while you get 1, but it's very unlikely. Get used to taking chances. If he has hand space, you'll need to expose another worker or else a good player will just take un-buildable workers in hand.

4. The transition between the "beginning" and "end" of the game depends on how many turns the game will last.
- you should try to end the game early if you are at a victory point advantage but an income disadvantage -- and conversely, you should prolong a game in the opposite circumstance.
- similarly, end the game early if you have a noble advantage that will be eroded, or a noble deficit that will be exaggerated.

5. Observatories
- In three and four player, observatory is usually the best card because it is much harder to get nobles.
- In the two player game, the observatory is not as important:
-- If your opponent builds an early observatory (or two observatories at any time), then he will probably be short on cash, so focus on building your cash flow and use it to build buildings later on to get at nobles.
-- If you have an observatory or two, then one strategy is to focus on getting your ten nobles and try to end the game before your opponent can catch up. Another strategy is to starve him of noble upgrades, so that no matter how long the game lasts, you'll have ten nobles, but he'll have fewer.
- Don't use an observatory unless the value of using it is more than one victory point. If your hand is pretty full and you need the room for the next two stages, there's no point in using the observatory. Yes, I know it's exciting to draw a card.

6. What you can learn from the workers that have come up.
- If you and and your opponent have cheap workers at round three, then you can expect the expensive ones to come up later. Since no one wants to build many expensive workers in the last round then you can you usually expect a longer game-- and vice versa.
- Also, you can use the cost of the played workers to estimate how much money you need to save for the green round. A rule of thumb is to save 5 rubles per worker you expect to buy (in the two player game). If you have built some expensive workers, then you can expect to spend a little less because of the bulk savings and because cheaper workers are bound to come up.

7. And the buildings that have come up....
- If the cheap buildings came and went in the first couple rounds, then expensive buildings are up ahead. Those are hard to build, so you won't be able to get many nobles as easily -- observatories are worth more! And vice versa.
- Also, if there are a lot of markets left over, then an early market is a good investment since it will allow you to pick up the later markets for cheaper. (Same idea for the 8-cost buildings)

8. Properly valuing the tax man
- The tax man is usually only worth building once you have five workers down
- The tax man is a very good card in two player, but not so important otherwise.
- The tax man is not as good as other upgrades in the last round of the game unless you are using him to build extra aristocrats that you would not normally afford

9. Winning difficult games
- Throughout the game, ask yourself what the opponent wants and what you have that he doesn't. More income? observatory? more nobles? more upgrades? more vp production? both pubs? Then, figure out how to leverage that.
- Conversely, to seal a victory make it so that you win regardless of what your opponent does-- make it so that if he tries to exploit one of your weaknesses, he opens up to one of your strengths. A common mistake is to seal the long game completely only to be beaten in the short game.

10. Manners
- Never complain about your opponent's luck. You might as well be saying "You don't deserve to be winning." You knew going in to the game that there would be some luck. Always play your best and be polite.
- Be modest in victory and loss.

I'll add more to this thread if people are interested.... Have fun, and remember not to play too much! Go outside!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Richard III:The Wars of the Roses

Lifted from BGG:


 I've been giving this some more thought after more plays, especially after a couple of attempts at the first campaign solitaire. So far my York always manages to kill at least one of my Lancaster rose nobles (and often several) in the first campaign. Losing more than one rose noble seems to be pretty much game over for Lancaster, as York can pretty easily reach their maximum of 15 nobles (including London) in three campaigns, while Lancaster has a harder time recruiting everyone (I'm looking at you, Lord Rivers). Lancaster's maximum is 16 nobles (excluding London), so with one Lancaster noble dead, Lancaster can still get 15 nobles and retain the throne, but with two dead the show's over. My conclusion for Lancaster strategy is to be extremely cautious. Expect the worst, because it is going to happen.

Here's the best solution I've come up with (Run Strategy):

  • Exeter, Devon and Pembroke ships to France, from where they will return together with the French mercenary in the last turns of the campaign. 
  • Oxford ships to Scotland, where he will stay until the third campaign because Essex is going to occupy his shield. 
  • Somerset and Wiltshire go to the king in London and then run north together. 
  • Beaumont goes to East Yorks to prevent a port-to-port landing there from the Yorkists in Calais (no, Northumberland can't be recruited to do this instead as Beaumont is too vulnerable in his home area and must leave). 
  • The Scottish mercenary does the same in Northumbria. 

After intial moves, all the good blocks in Northumbria and South Yorks are recruited, and Lancaster sets up to defend in the areas Lancaster and South Yorks, with available reserves to the north.

 The problem is that York isn't going to let Lancaster do all of this, and because the pretender goes first on equal AP York can almost always catch someone before they get away. It seems to get even worse for Lancaster if York is allowed to port-to-port move into the northern ports as well, as this can prevent Lancaster recruits for several turns while the starting Lancaster blocks get slaughtered.

So far I've failed to come up with a Lancaster strategy that would keep all their nobles alive.

I've made two assumptions in the above conclusion that I hope might be wrong: a) York will always control London and b) Lancaster won't kill any York nobles. While a) feels almost certain, b) is more in question.

Maybe Lancaster is supposed to lose a noble or two in the first campaign and needs to be played much more aggressively in the second?
I restricted my solitaire tests to the first campaign, so I haven't really seen if that would be feasible. I also hope I may be overlooking something that Lancaster can do in the first campaign to delay the York kill-stack (Burgundy-Calais-March-Warwick).


 All right first off let me say, i have been on this site for over 2 years and now rarely buy any game without checking on here first. But this is my first post, so let me thank you all in advance for the love.

 Now on to the actual strategy (Aggressive Defense).

First off I will be talking about the general strategy for a Lancaster player. I will assume your opponent is also a decent player (or at least equal to you).

Now for speed I will break the board into 3 main theaters:

  1. The first is the North defined as everything north of the South York county. 
  2. The second is the West which is Wales, Cornwall and the two counties next to it (Somerset and Dorset).
  3. Everything else is in the South. 

 In addition there are four central Counties, due to their location (the ability to move in one normal move, that is two spaces people) to critical locations (like London or South Yorks) and the ability to muster a unit or two. Now there are more spaces then these that meets these requirements but they are either critical locations or lack the ability to support multiple fronts effectively, the four are Warwick, Lincoln, Wilts (Wilts and bombard if need be and right by Dorset, Cornwall and Middlesex) and Northumbria (due to the sea move and support of the North).

 Finally, Lancaster always play a 3 card as your first card of the first campaign. It gives you a good response for anything York does yet means you go second (only a 2 makes you go first and opening with a 2 as York is pretty crazy but if it happens march Oxford to London and summon up Buckingham and the Coventry Levy to Warwick county):

Back to our general strategy (Aggressive Defense)

 For Lancaster, the first campaign is an aggressive defense. To be honest that sounds insane, but it works. If you just run for your life, York can pick too many units off. But if you concentrate then run York also has to concentrate to hit you. And it allows you to survive the first round of combat and then run like a little girl. If York goes south:
then you run to Warwick, why Warwick you ask? Well it has the Coventry Levy (read meat shield, don't count on it to do damage just move it as a shield) and Buckingham (decent noble, big health but low loyalty most useful as meat shield also) and the Bombard if you need it. In addition with a simple move Warwick can hit London, Cornwall, or head north to South York. If York goes north you're in more trouble. Best bet is to run. Where changes based on where York lands. If York lands in Northumbria:
run south and try to get to a place where even force march can't get you. Beaumont can go to Middlesex or Warwick as needed, Clifford needs to head south towards Derby - no where else is really going to work for him. If York lands in East Yorks:
Clifford can march to Scotland through Northumbria, and Beaumont sea moves usually to Scotland but can go south based on your hand.
You're also going to want to summon the Welsh mercanaries in Caernarvon. The way to counter the North move is to get your mercanaries together and then attrition the hell out of them. York can bring more blocks out in the north and will have to summon them to the south, you must use your activations to group Oxford and Exeter to Middlesex with the King and then either retreat en mass or summon the Bombard and make a stand there.
If the main York army (usually the Calais mercs, Warick and March) come south, run. They aren't worth fighting. But if those four are north you can, in fact, fight for London. Once you got your five stack in London (a muster event card is a great way to do this) then get the french and scot mercs to the welsh mercs and head for south york and summon up York levy and Shrewsbury. York usually attacks and you just fight to the death. All of your blocks come back (unless Warwick can successfully treason shrewsbury, but even then its not a big deal he has a 1 loyalty to York and a 2 to Lancaster so you can get him back if you want) once this fight is done.
Get Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Newcastle levy in Northumbria and watch York run (unless you had poor rolls or he had really good ones, or some combo of the two) mean while you have london plus a pretty serious threat to most of York's muster options sitting in London.
In addition as needed you can muster up Buckingham and Coventry levys to beef up london or operate as reinforcements should a huge london attack develop.

 Just a general idea of how to fight a north move: my group does tend to see a north move with a smaller south move, but if no south move comes continue to concentrate on using expendable units (levys, mercs, and in a pinch noble with loyalty ratings as meet shields to atrit York.

I find the first turn its less important to get out a lot of nobles (unless York is doing that) then it is to stop York from killing your units. King/Heir/Nobles unit survival should be the main focus.