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buying the most houses?
Because whenver I play this with my friends,
I feel the one with the least houses has the biggest advantage.
He buys resources first and builds houses first.
And bidding first is not that good either.
The last player to bid is the one who can relax and choose for his taste
with no intruder. What do you think?
Why is so much disadvantage put on the first player?
All things being equal, there's not much point to being first. Here's a few cases where I might.
1) Worried about losing out on cheap cities. It happens sometimes where I could go 2nd or 3rd, but the 4th or 5th person would likely steal some cities, so I buy 1-3 extra cities to lock up good prices.
2) Making more money, it's usually only like 9 electra, but you can't get it if you don't build
3) (I'm really stretching it here) I really want to dump a power plant, and the extra city dumps it.
I've read other people who like to just go out front for the most part. I never feel good about being below 3rd unless everyone is tight. It just depends for the most part on your situation if you want to jump ahead. But the 9 electra can be worth the disadvantadge of going first.
It is difficult to maintain the back position constantly since you buy houses first. On the other hand, if you choose not to buy houses (guaranteeing your spot), you lose a major advantage of being in that spot. Additionally being in the last spot does mean, at least in some sense, that you are behind in the game since you have fewer houses towards your goal, and additionally you will make less money each round (assuming you have strictly fewer houses). A better strategy is to bounce back and forth.
If you buy houses, it to some extent cancels out the advantage of buying houses first (since you actually bought them first on an earlier turn.)
You might have a set of plants for which fuel buying order is less important (e.g., a monopoly on some type of fuel, or a decent-sized windmill.)
Finally, you might judge that being last in the auction phase is not a big liability (e.g., there are good plants in the current market.)
My experience after let's say 10 games is the following:
My interest in earning more money than my competetors is always my priority. Control your cashflow, control the game, ... I know that being first in the list brings lots of disadvantages, especially in buying energy. But like stated here above, try to buy different powerplants, or try to buy those that your fellow gamers don't have.
In all but very rare cases, it is the first player who experiences the most disadvantage. The first player pays more for his connections and more for his fuel, and has the least opportunities to bid on the best power plants. By that measure, one should always strive to be last, not first, until the very end of the game.
So, you are last. How does that aid you? You purchase connections cheaper than anyone else in the same turn, so you buy, but that will move you up the turn order. You have the best opportunities to buy good plants, but good plants are bigger, and bigger plants will move you up the turn order (when cities are tied). The cheaper fuel will not move you up the turn order, but all cheaper fuel does for you is give you a little more money, and you already have more than you can spend on fuel (because your fuel is cheap), and how does money aid you if you will not spend it? So you spend it, and you spent it on more connections and bigger plants, and thus you move up the turn order.
Of course, you could choose not to buy connections and plants so that you stay down the turn order, but then it is the next player who buys the cheapest connections and the best plants, and suddenly the advantage of being in last place is his, not yours. Choose not to move, to always stay behind, and you have chosen to lose right from the start.
So if you intend to win, and if your opponents are good and you are, perhaps, better, you will spend when you are behind and that will put you in front, and wait when you are ahead and that will put you behind.
And when you are ahead, you may have one benefit: you may power more cities and earn more money, because you have more cities and better plants.
So the best player is the one who knows he will be in front, and makes sure that when he is, he will be far in front, to make that one advantage count for the most. Then he knows he will be behind, and he ensures that when he is, he is close behind, so that what he loses from that position counts for little, but the advantages will count for much and then he will be in front again. And this will continue until the game ends, and that will be another time when he will be in front, for the timing is everything.
That is why you should bother to be the first player, and why you should bother to be the last player as well, and everywhere in between in balance and the cycle.
A better strategy is to bounce back and forth.
And knowing when to try for first player and when to hang back is a big part of the strategy.
This issue is often brought up, and it's often the number one complaint many players have about this game. They feel somehow that this game mechanic somehow makes it hard to be in the lead, and some argue that the game would be better if this principle weren't there.
I think the game works very well because of this game mechanic, as it adds a lot of depth to the game. If there were no restrictions like this, the player leading after a couple of rounds would most likely win the game, making more money and being further ahead.
Disadvantages of being in the lead
It may seem disadvantages to be in the lead for three reasons. Firstly (1), you must act first when buying power plants. Second (2), you get to buy resources last, with higher prices than others. Thirdly (3), others may build their new cities before you get to do so. I'll try to explain how these factors could be dealt with, in order to win the game.
Solutions for these problems
Buying the right power plants is possibly most important of all. If you buy power plants too often, disadvantage 1 will hurt you more. If you're in the lead, pick the power plants that you do want, and if others outbid you, at least you get a better one. Wait for power plants that provide power to many cities, that way you will have a good power plant for a long time to come, and will not be forced to buy new ones too often.
Consider buying strong power plants BEFORE you have enough cities for them. This way you can often choose between which power plants to fuel and to use, and you can use weaker power plants as storage space. Buying hybrid early on allows you to stock up on whatever resource is more available. Then be on the lookout for a oil or coal power plant that can use the resources you already got stored.
The resource problem can be dealt with in a number of ways. Don't buy more than you need, this will always inflate prices. Opponents may fill up in order to burn you, but they hurt themselves in the process. When their storage is full, they won't be able to further increase the price, as their consumption will limit the amount they can buy.
Also calculate whether it's worth it to burn that extra three coal. If the income of one more city does not exceed the cost of the resources, just save the resources for a later turn. In these cases, remember that if you burn coal worth 9 Elektro to earn another 10, you still decrease supply, creating higher prices for yourself in future turns.
Get a resource monopoly
The best defence against the resource disadvantage (2) is to get a MONOPOLY. If you're the only player with a garbage power plant, being last in line doesn't matter at all. Nobody can steal your garbage, so being in a leading position is ideal. You should never give up a monopoly without a fight. If a better garbage power plant appears, grab it. Defending your monopoly is worth a lot, so pushing up the price of these power plants is absolutely necessary, so make sure opponents must overpay to get a cut of your resources. You can most often afford an "overprice" of 10 or 20 Elektro for a power plant with a better exchange rate than the one you have, as long as you monopolize on its resource. Don't worry about inferior garbage plants, as opponents would be pretty unwise to buy them. You could still compete with them on the exchange rate, and they would be entering a penetrated market with inferior terms. Don't defend your monopolies at any cost, but consider the value of staying alone on that market. If you have a monopoly and there's no such power plant in the future market, you only need to buy resources for one turn at a time.
Some players love wind power because they eliminate the resource problem. However, these power plants are a bit "overrated", when it comes to their cost/output ratio. So, wind power is a bit weak. Buying too many too soon or too often can be risky. In my opinion it's better to power 5 cities for 2 coal than to power 3 cities for free. Buying a wind power plant with output 1 is rarely a good idea, as they go obsolete too soon.
Being in the lead means that you connect new cities last. This means that opponent get to choose new cities first, so maybe the cheap connections go their way. This disadvantage can be modified by being selective about where to build. Don't just think about cheap connections, also think about having enough room and enough options. Also, if you're in the lead, you already have more cities than everyone else (unless you're tied on cities and ahead on power plants, which is not a good position to be in), so others need the new cities more than you. If you set up in a cheap area, you may find yourself fenced in, which is not good. Instead, try to cover as much land as possible, and you will have more options no matter where your opponents build.
Building last could also be an advantage. Your opponents cannot know how far you will expand, and if you expand too far ahead of them, they will never catch up. As the game progresses towards the 17 cities limit, there is always the threat that you'll end the game by reaching 17. Provided that you have strong power plants, you'll probably be ahead on power supply as well. If an opponent should expand beyond you, you may respond by expanding even further than him, maintaining the same turn order.
Try to cut your competitors out of the grid, by building into their turf, making it expensive or hard for them to grow. This will force them to build even if they cannot power their cities, just so they won't get built in. Likewise, if you can expand into a large enough area, further growth will be relatively easy towards the end.
Power plants first, cities later
For this to work you will need a power surplus, i.e. you can power more cities than you have. When you reach your supply limit, you should probably stop building more cities until you have more power available. Again, if you buy mediocre power plants too often, you'll find yourself spending a lot investing in power plants, only to see them replaced very soon.
To sum up, it is okay to be the leading player as long as you're able to:
- buy the power plants that give you many cities
- monopolize on a resource and defend your monopolies
- lead aggressively, by buying even more cities (that will pay off)
- monitor your spending (don't overstock on resources)
Beware of shortages
There is one thing that you must look out for: shortages in resource supply. Let's say you have a coal plant that powers 7 cities, and two opponents buy one coal power plant each, each of these spending three coal. These players can then buy away six coal each, possibly cleaning out the market. If you don't have your coal by then, the market can be emptied out quick, and you may be cut out for good, as long as you're ahead. If you're close to the end of the game, consider how much coal your opponents could possibly buy, to make sure that they can't cut you off. A way to counter this is to forfeit profits from one of your power plants. You will get less money that round, but you may then save your resources for the final round, that counts. If you still have enough money, you may end the game and still be ahead of the competition.
A winning start
I've shared most of my thoughts on being ahead with style, and a crucial part of success is finding the right time to rush ahead. I'll briefly explain a strategy to set this up.
Your starting power plant should be
- preferably, the highest-ranking power plant
- preferably, a power plant that could power 2 cities
- alternatively, any hybrid power plant
If you buy the highest-ranking power plant, you will end up first in turn order when buying resources. This won't matter much. Buy resources for one turn.
Here comes the trick: If at least one opponent builds just one city, build NONE. This will places you last in turn order. If all opponents build two, then build one. Building no cities will still give you an income of 10 Elektro this turn, without spending any resources.
In round two you will be last in turn order, preferably with a decent power plant. Other players will possibly need another, so they will buy them, allowing you to buy the best power plant on the market. You should stay off renewable energy at this point, as their ranking is high and their output low.
Now you may buy resources first for BOTH of your power plants. Don't buy more than you need if this will exhaust your building money. So far you are last in turn order, but you have the strongest power plants.
You now have supplied, good power plants, and will build first. Now is the time to aim for the lead. Be very careful about where you deploy. Your opponents have probably chosen the cheapest areas. Now try to claim as much of the remaining area as possible, shutting your strongest competitor out if possible. If you deploy next to him, he is limited to his side of the map, while you control the middle. You may be able to claim nearly half the map for you, leaving your opponents to struggle for the rest among themselves. If done well, this can be a strategic advantage that will continue to pay off throughout the game, also becauseyou have better access to new cities. Your opponents got their first cities cheaper, but they'll be in a lot of trouble.
Stay in business
When you grab the lead, try to stay ahead by regarding the above principles. An opponent may catch up or overtake you, perhaps due to large investments. However, if there power plants are inferior to yours, they will not be able to sustain their growth rate, and you will keep the lead. If someone rushes way ahead of you, exploit your position until you find a good time to lunge forward again. Remember, if you're ahead on power plants, you have time to wait for the next "right" one. Replace power plants with low output first, or keep one energy-consuming power plant as storage space.
Your opponents may get their resources cheaper, but their power plants typically need more fuel. Pay attention to the market and look for significant upgrades or monopolies, that help you rule from the lead.
I get a feeling this reply got a little longer than first intended. Hmmm... I want to play the game.
- Last edited Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:36 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:32 pm