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Subject: Builder's Delight rss

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Mike K
United States
Fairless Hills
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This was a 3pl game from BSW. To retain anonymity, I will refer to my opponents as 'Blue' and 'Red' (I was 'Black').

I've mentioned before that it pays to be flexible; indeed, I took the exact opposite strategy that I usually like to do. This was due in large part to the initial neutral building set-up: both wood-cube buildings were the first two on the track (the wood/food one was 2nd), and the carpenter was a middling 4th space away; meanwhile, the only cloth-cube building was found at the far end of the track (with the stone-cube building 3 spaces away, just before the carpenter). By my reasoning, this makes for a game where early castle builds will be reduced and the carpenter, a building I normally shun, will be extra valuable.

The initial turn order was Red, me, Blue; incredibly, this turn order remained for the first two-thirds of the game. Neither Blue nor I felt the need to jump to the front.

On the first turn, I grabbed the wood-food building (for a food) and used the carpenter to build the 2food/1cloth building; I decided early on to avoid building the 2cloth/1food building, which (I felt) would be more beneficial to the castle builders (who will strive for favors, and could use the extra cloth for the joust). Second turn, I took some wood and built the 2stone building.

At the same time, and as I had hoped, castle-building was slow; Red grabbed one cheap favor early, but up until the last turn for the round, there were no other castle builds. (Blue erred early by trying the castle with only food and wood cubes.) Red was first to the castle that last turn, and built twice for the round favor; Blue and I built one each to avoid the penalty (and get 5 points), but Red ended up the only one with any favors at the end of the Dungeon phase. However, by this time Blue had built the Mason, and I had built the wood marketplace (a personal favorite, as it usually allows me to avoid the money track altogether; I have an excellent track record in games where I am able to avoid that track).

It was the middle phase where I completely dominated the buildings. Though Blue built the Mason, I got a ton of usage out of it; I built five buildings during this time, four of them stone. In order, I had built the 2wood+1food, lawyer, 2food+1cloth, 2stone+1cloth, and alchemist buildings. On my one trip to the castle (on a turn where I also jousted), I did two catches to earn the favor; both that one and the joust went to building up the point track. By the wall phase's end, I got the point track to the 3rd level; up until the very end, it was the only track I hit.

The consequence of all my building: at one point, I had built 9 out of the 10 buildings in the game (with Blue's Mason the lone exception). With all these buildings came two advantages:

First, I earned a steady stream of VPs the entire game (in addition to the cubes I got from the stone production buildings).

Second, I never needed to fear an early pass, as I had many safe landing spots to pay only one; on one turn in the middle phase, I placed two additional workers after the others had passed; the ability to pass last also helped me control the Provost

Between the two advantages, I found myself up a ton going into the last third of the game. I built the architect shortly thereafter, but then nothing until the very end; Blue got in the church, 2wood building, and cloth-for-points buliding in between. Though Red continued to do well in the castle (beating me three batches to two in one round) and on the board (knocking out my only trip to the architect), he could not stop the constant point barrage I was getting each turn.

With four castle spaces left and with me going just after Red ... the turn order did switch a couple times in between, but ended up the way it began ... he faced a tough decision: go for the architect (and get the only Prestige building anyone would get), or go for the castle (and likely fill it up). He chose the architect, and I chose the castle. Though he built the cathedral (with a gold to spare), I earned enough cubes to get one last stone building (the bank) AND fill up the castle. The final score said it all:

Black (me): 134
Red: 105
Blue: 68

One point to make about this kind of strategy: build the buildings that will help you out most, NOT ones that will encourage opponents to point you up. Indeed, I would have built the Mason myself had Blue not beaten me to it, but he had to hit that building at least a few times while choices were plentiful. On my end, I built the marketplace to neutralize the money track that Red embarked on. I built the alchemist since I had already gotten all the stone production buildings and figured I would have use for such a building (though, ironically, I never actually used it). On the other hand, I avoided the bank since I wasn't cash-rich and didn't want others to take advantage. (Building the architect didn't help me directly, as I was blocked on my one attempt at using it, but it did let me pretty much match Red point-for-point on the last round; I earned about as much for the castle as he earned for the cathedral.) And no one built the 2cloth production building, which I'm sure would have helped others more than it would help me.

When you have a favorable advantage, milk it for all it's worth!
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Tristan Brightman
United Kingdom
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What would you do with an unfavourable advantage?
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