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Ian Brody
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Prepare cards have a lot of uses. Some are very obvious, like the defensive ones. I think that there are a lot of new players who would benefit from some pointers.

I unfortunately now end up mostly playing with the basic rule, since much of the time I'm playing the game with new players, at a convention or club or something. If you've got a group that's played it a couple times, please do move onto the advanced rule.

The most dramatic plays in the game will typically come from combinations produced from prepare cards.


Timing prepare cards

Many actions at the beginning of the game are more important than at the end. A City that lasts 5 scoring rounds is better than one that scores just once.

This doesn't mean that you should throw your cities down willy-nilly, undefended, as those are just scoring opportunities for the enemy. What it means is that tossing an extra card early to get a Prepare card out in the planning step is generally going to better earlier than later.

It also means that sometimes it might not be worth being patient about it. For example, if Corinth has the following in the opening hand:

Syracuse was founded by Archias,one of the Heraclids from Corinth Use during the Scoring Round. Gain +2 Victory Points if the Oligarchs have a supplied piece in Sicily or Syracuse and the Demos do not.

and

The Syracusans put out ships to attack the Athenians on all sides Use during your Strategy step. Muster a Trireme in the West Mediterranean Sea, or remove an enemy Trireme in the West Mediterranean Sea.

Tossing 2 cards on turn 2 to get the Syracuse Prepare card seems like no brainer. Turn 3 reveals both Prepare cards, and plays the scoring Status card during the Play step.

A Spartan opening draw that contains:
Knowledge of how to rule and to be ruled Use during your Strategy step. Muster 1 or 2 Hoplites in or adjacent to Laconia.

and

To prepare troops and the provisions requisite for a foreign campaign
Use after you muster a Hoplite or Trireme. Remove up to 3 of your
Hoplites and/or Triremes from the board; then, one by one, muster these
pieces.


This seems like a good combination, but add in:
Because we are the only ones who give birth to men Use after you Muster a Hoplite. Battle a Land space adjacent to the Hoplite just mustered.

Now during the Strategy step you build next to Athens, battle, and finish it off with a Land Battle during Play step on turn 3. Naturally, if you're playing Athens you'll want to make sure to do something to prevent this horrible fate. Possibly wasting good cards when in fact Sparta has played no such combination!

Sparta itself is vulnerable to a Turn 2 take-down. If Athens plays 2 Prepare cards down on Turn 1, you must do something to do defend Sparta.

Corinth has a number of deck draining Prepare cards, some are conditional, but others are not. If Athens is being careful about spending cards, using these early will discard cards that are more likely to be of use to the Athenians. As time goes by, cards drawn are less likely to be of utility - however, if Athens has been careless, a big surprise discard at the end can be devastating!

In summary:
1. Prepare cards are best used in combinations, for devastating effects. Don't just play them because you have them.
2. Be willing to dive into your Draw deck with Emergency Provision.
3. The threat of enemy combos can cause your opponents much grief.

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Mark Turner
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Thanks! Would also be interested in your thoughts on effective Athens strategies.
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Ian Brody
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Athens has the most reactive of all decks. They are arguably the most powerful (and the Delian League, the least), but have several simultaneous "mandatory" tasks ahead.

- Protect Athens.
A combined Spartan and Corinthian (really Theban) attack cannot be resisted. Play down Prepare cards that save Athens, and if you think you see a combo that results in an knock out, be proactive, and use emergency provision to get a Prepare card.

Make sure the Delian League player doesn't use it's card to allow you to muster a Hoplite until you tell them to. (You won't know they have it, but at the beginning of the game, you can tell them not to throw it away, play it early, and not use it until you say so...)

Holding Attica (outside Athens) is nice, but tricky. You don't have that many Muster Hoplite cards. If you're in Attica, you'll be less likely to be able to use a Land Battle to occasionally skirmish the Oligarchs from Athens, to help protect Athens. I usually go for the Corinthians, because their easier to kill and are more likely to make you discard.

- Establish a Colony

If you fail to save Athens you might be devastated if you can't muster new pieces. If you spent the effort to place a Colony using Athenian Colonists someplace logical, you're still in the game. Naxos, Lemnos, Euboea are all good choices, but Syracuse can be even better...if you're willing to risk it.... The other city cards for Athens (Argos, Pylos) are way too fragile to rely upon. It is important to remember that Athens did relocate itself to the island of Salamis during the Persian Wars, so running a war from a government in exile is "in their playbook". Since Athenian Colonists is a Prepare card, what you need to remember is to muster a Hoplite where you want the City while Athens still exists.

- Protect a Delian League Cities and Trade Routes, and Destroy the Enemy

I lump these together since they are all related. The Delian League has all these great ways of scoring but not the resources to make it happen. Frequently a "trade route" status card will come out that is like getting an old Jaguar. It becomes a project, of keeping the Oligarchs from spoiling the points. Meanwhile, you don't want to leave the DL cities, unprotected, so frequently you'll be mustering around their cities.

And you're going to play a bit of whack a mole. The Prepare cards that let you muster out of sequence are most potent. Don't muster pieces for the sake of putting them on the board. Prepare cards that muster pieces should be used in combination - like to trigger To prepare troops and the provisions requisite for a foreign campaign. Or a Land battle, so you can put a piece down and attack with it all in the same turn, killing an undefended city. Cleon, the most violent man at Athens, carried the motion of putting the Mitylenians to death allows you to battle after mustering. Which means you can do something like use a Strategy step prepare card to muster, then trigger Cleon andthen in your play step you can battle again (killing both hoplite and city in one turn, without having a piece adjacent at the beginning of the turn).

Since the Delian League has more point scoring potential, you'll need to look to its lead.

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Ian Brody
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I think I should add, for all players.

Don't muster pieces for no reason. Controlling a lot of spaces is rarely that important.
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Angus Lee
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Very nice advices. Thanks Ian!
I consider myself very lucky to have played the game with the same group for five games at one game session. The first two games we played with basic provisioning and the last three games we played with advanced provisioning.

The feedback from the Athens player is that the advanced rule helps a lot to the defense of Athen. Generally speaking we have more fun with advanced rule because more interesting combos can be pulled and luck factor can be mitigated.
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