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Subject: Opening sequences rss

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Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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It's better not to trust to luck for a good second turn. If you draw the same terrain type again, or one you've already touched, your options might be severely limited. Usually, you can acquire a location tile in your first turn that will guarantee that you can acquire another one in the next turn, and possibly the next and the next, at least as long as no one blocks your spot. The location tiles that can lead to a guaranteed next placement are:

Farm - Just make sure you don't touch grass when you get it. Then you can place on any grass space on the board, some of which touch location tiles.

Oasis - Use the same way as Farm, but make sure you don't touch the desert.

Tower - Occasionally, there are location tiles right next to the edge of the board. You have to make sure that you haven't made a placement near the edge of the board yet.

Harbor - There are many occurrences of location tiles next to water. Claim the Harbor with one of the spaces not next to the water. You can also place on one space that does touch water, but remove that house with the first part of the Harbor action.

You can usually use these powers only once for an unrestricted placement. After that, since most terrain types don't occur in isolated hexes, you'll have a limited range of adjacent placements to choose from. Therefore to continue your progression, you'll need to acquire a new, different location tile. An exception is if your opponents occupy some of the spaces of the terrain group and let you place non-adjacently early. Another exception is that there are a few one-hex water locations.

A word on the Paddock. The Paddock cannot guarantee you any location tiles on your second turn. It slightly increases your chance to access some location tiles, since you can draw a nearby but non-adjacent terrain, and jump to the tile. In general it only adds one or zero extra terrain types that will help you get to any particular tile. It will also guarantee that you can eventually get to any location tile you want, but it is probably too late if you have to hop all the way across the board. Still, if you can't get any other of the above tiles, Paddock might be a good start.

Since the location tiles always occur in the same places on the boards, there are consistent sequences of these powers that you can employ. All the sequences of the above tiles can be summed up as subsequences of

Oasis -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower
Harbor -> (Farm) -> Oasis -> Tower

You can start at any point on the sequence and end early at any point if you like. You cannot skip, except you can skip the Farm step. If you get the Harbor, then the Farm, you will actually be using the Harbor again to get the Oasis or Tower. The water space next to the Farm touches grass too, so you can't then use the Farm power for an unrestricted placement. However, it is a single-space "lake", so your Harbor power remains unrestricted. On the other hand if you start with the Farm, you use a grass placement to get the Oasis or Tower.

It's easy enough to analyze the board and see what sequences are possible, but memorizing the above sequences can help you do it faster, and avoid accidentally overlooking a possibility. At least remember that Tower comes last, and Oasis and Harbor usually come first if they are present. An exception is that Farm comes before Oasis if Harbor is not present. This assumes that you have a terrain that enables you to start on the tile that should come first. If not you will have to start later in the sequence.

If Oasis and Harbor are both in the game, it's not hard to decide which to start with. Obviously you can only start with the Harbor if you have a desert of canyons card. At the same time, if you have those, you cannot start with the Oasis. That is, you can, but you will not be able to continue the sequence, since in either case you will be touching desert. If you start with forest or flowers, you can potentially access the full sequence starting with Oasis. However you are limited if you start with grass. The grass space that touches the Oasis also touches water, so that will limit your ability to use the Harbor in the sequence. You can use it by removing your house that touches the water, but then you will lose the Oasis. So you can either follow the last two steps of the second sequence and take Oasis -> Tower, or you can follow the first sequence and take Oasis -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower, but lose the Oasis and just keep the Harbor, (Farm), and Tower.

Another very weak start is a desert card when there is no Harbor in the game. You lose the ability to use the Oasis anywhere in your sequence, and desert can't get you a start with a Farm. All you can get is a Tower. Canyons are pretty weak if there is no Harbor, forest and flowers if there is no Oasis. The best sequence in either case is Farm -> Tower.

Some prefix of one of these sequences will be maximal for any particular combination of quadrants and starting cards:

Forest, Flowers -> Oasis -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower
Grass -> Oasis -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower
Canyons -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Oasis -> Tower
Desert, Canyons -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Oasis
Desert, Canyons -> Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower
Forest, Flowers -> Farm -> Oasis -> Tower
Forest, Flowers, Canyons -> Farm -> Tower
Grass, Forest, Flowers -> Oasis -> Tower
Grass, Flowers, Desert, Canyons -> Tower

In addition to the above tiles, you might be able to get a "terminal action": one of the remaining types of tiles, or a repeat of a tile you already have. Both will usually require you to place adjacent and not usually get you another location tile, though it's possible you will get one with your regular action.

If you have a Farm, you can get anything except a Harbor, including another Farm.

If you have an Oasis, you can get anything except an Oracle and a Farm, including another Oasis.

If you have a Tower, you can always get a Paddock (the Paddocks are near the edge of opposite sides of the quadrant; no matter which way it's oriented, one of them will be near the edge of the board). You can sometimes get a Farm, but if so it will be a terminal action, since you will also touch grass. Since the Tower doesn't always link to another location tile, you should consider taking a terminal action instead of the Tower in the first place.

If you have a Harbor, you can get an Oracle, in addition to the links in the above sequences.
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Greg Jones
United States
Washington
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morningstar wrote:
Harbor -> (Farm) -> Oasis -> Tower


I noticed a problem when trying to use this sequence. It's not reliable. If you touch the Harbor, you must touch either water or desert. Therefore you cannot always use both the Harbor and Oasis freely.

If you access the Harbor with canyons, you will often be able to access the whole sequence, because another player will often take the desert spaces near the Harbor and block the desert space you touch. Another possibility is that you first use the Harbor to gain the Farm and/or Oasis, and during one of those turns you draw canyons again. Then you can place a house on the canyon space next to the Harbor and water. Next turn you use the Harbor to remove the house that touches the desert (and place a house in a not-very-useful adjacent position). Now you can use the Oasis.

If you access the Harbor with desert, you're probably not going to get blocked and you won't be able to use the Oasis (as already indicated in the article).

In either case if it fails, you can still get the Harbor -> (Farm) -> Tower sequence, or you can take the Oasis (or any other) as a terminal action instead of the Tower.
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