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Clash of Cultures» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Start your engines ! rss

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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Hi !

I have a theory about openings I'd like to share.
It's all about engines.

To me, the purpose of the first turns is to set up as fast as possible an engine that will fuel your later development. This starting engine is not meant to be your long term plan. It's only here for one purpose : kick-start your civilization so that it can do something else. It should restrict at least as possible your future options.
Then, there are imho 4 such engines in the tech tree : Temple (Myths), Academy (Writing), Taxation and Trade Routes. Those 4 have a clear superior potential to fulfil such a role compared to all other techs.
Finally, what is the best way to implement those engines? Depending on the variant you use, the answer may vary. I'll concentrate on the standard game, that is 1 settler + neutral city.


Temple (Myths)

Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none

Turn 2
Action 1: Settle City 2
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food
Current resources: 2 Food

Turn 3
Action 1: Advance – Myths (+1 Mood, -2 Food)
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Ore
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Ore
Current resources: 1 Mood, 2 Ore

Status Phase: Free Advance – State Religion (+1 Mood)

Turn 4
Action 1: Civic Improvement – Cities 1&2 happy (-2 Mood)
Action 2: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food + 1 Wood
Action 3: Activate City 1 – Build Temple (-1 Ore, -1 Wood, + 1 Mood)
Current resources: 1 Food, 1 Ore, 1 Mood

Turn 5
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food + 1 Wood + 1 ?
Action 2: Advance – Dogma (-2 Food)
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Build Temple (-1 Ore, -1 Wood, + 1 Mood, +1 Theocracy advance)

Situation at the end of Turn 5: 2 size-2 happy cities producing 3 resources, 1 settler (hopefully) ready to settle, 4 advances, 1 resource, 2 Mood, no event launched

Note 1: the prerequisite regarding resources is that you can collect 2 food among cities 1 and 2. The repartition doesn't matter. Rearrange the template if necessary.
Note 2: advancing Tactics or Writing wouldn't launch an event. Advancing Fishing would.
Note 3: mountains are not much of an issue. In worst case, you can settle next to city 1 as long as you have access to the necessary resources.
Note 4: you only have to decide between this one and Academy on Turn 3. You only have to decide between this one and Trade Routes on Turn 2.
Note 5: a yellow/happy/collect start will be slower.


Academy (Writing)

Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none

Turn 2
Action 1: Settle City 2
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food
Current resources: 2 Food

Turn 3
Action 1: Advance – Writing (+1 Culture, -2 Food)
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Ore
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Wood
Current resources: 1 Culture, 1 Ore, 1 Wood

Status Phase: Free Advance – Free Education (+1 Mood)

Turn 4
Action 1: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Build Academy (+2 Ideas)
Action 3: Advance – Public Education (+2 Mood, -2 Ideas)
Current resources: 1 Culture, 3 Mood

Turn 5
Action 1: Civic Improvement – Cities 1&2 happy (-3 Mood)
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food + 1 Ore + 1 Wood + 1 Idea
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Build Academy (-1 Food, -1 Ore, -1 Wood, + 2 Ideas)

Situation at the end of Turn 5: 2 size-2 happy cities producing 4 resources (one of them being an Idea), 1 settler (hopefully) ready to settle, 3 advances, 3 Ideas, 1 Culture, no event launched

Note 1: the prerequisite regarding resources is that city 2 has access to food. Rearrange the template if necessary.
Note 2: advancing Tactics wouldn't launch an event. Advancing Fishing or Myths would.
Note 3: mountains are not much of an issue. In worst case, you can settle next to city 1 as long as you have access to the necessary resources.
Note 4: you only have to decide between this one and Temple on Turn 3. You only have to decide between this one and Trade Routes on Turn 2.
Note 5: a yellow/happy/collect start will be slower.


Trade Routes

Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none

Turn 2
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: 1 Food

Turn 3
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Advance – Bartering (+1 Mood, -2 Food)
Action 3: Civic Improvement – City 1 happy (-1 Mood)
Current resources: none

Status Phase: Free Advance – Trade Routes

Turn 4
Free : Trade Routes (+2 Food)
Action 1: Advance – Currency (+1 Culture, -2 Food)

Situation after one action on Turn 4: 1 size-1 happy cities producing 2 resources, 2 free Gold per turn through Trade Routes and 2 settlers, 1 Culture, 3 advances, no event launched

Note 1: advancing Tactics, Fishing, Myths or Writing wouldn't launch an event.
Note 2: mountains are an issue. If your settlers get too much stuck, you may have to do something else or to delay the activation of Trade Routes by one turn (hopefully still with Currency).
Note 3: you only have to decide between this one and Temple or Academy on Turn 2.
Note 4: a yellow/happy/collect start will be slower.


Taxation © foxtrot2620

Turn 1
Action 1: Advance – Irrigation (+1 Mood, -2 Food)
Action 2: Civic Improvement – City 1 happy (-1 Mood)
Action 3: Activate City 1 – Collect 2 Food
Current resources: 2 Food

Turn 2
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers on starting tile (one on mountain, one on forest)
Action 3: Settle City 2
Current resources: none

Turn 3
Action 1: Settle City 3
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 2 Food
Action 3: Advance – Bartering (+1 Mood, -2 Food)
Current resources: 1 Mood

Status Phase: Free Advance – Currency (+1 Culture)

Turn 4
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 2 Food
Action 2: Advance – Taxation (-2 Food)
Action 3: Tax (-1 Mood, + 3 Gold)
Current resources: 1 Culture, 3 Gold

Turn 5
Action 1: Advance – Myths (+1 Mood, -2 Gold) LAUNCH EVENT
Action 2: Tax (-1 Mood, + 3 Gold)
Action 3: Activate City 1 – Build Temple (-3 Gold, + 1 Mood)
Current resources: 1 Culture, 1 Mood, 1 Gold

Turn 6
Action 1: Tax (-1 Mood, + 3 Gold)
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Build 2 Settlers (-4 Gold)
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: 1 Culture

Status Phase: Free Advance – State Religion (+1 Mood)

Situation at the beginning of Turn 7: 2 size-1 neutral cities and 1 size-2 happy city, 2 settlers (hopefully) ready to settle, 3-Gold Tax, 6 advances, 1 Mood, 1 Culture, 1 event launched

Note 1: many events have no effect on your civilization when launched on Turn 5.
Note 2: advancing Tactics or Writing wouldn't launch an event. Advancing Fishing would.
Note 3: a non-Irrigation start will be slower.


And that's it!
From where those templates stop, you can do whatever you want. You have your engine, which provides the resources to go where you want to. It's just a set-up. The choice between the engines should be based on context like tiles discovered, objectives, action cards or opponents. And your mood. Do whatever you feel like to!
On a side note, I'm not saying that Ports and Fortresses should be disregarded. I'm saying that they are not as good as the others as starting engines. They should be played after having set up the starting engine, depending on the situation.
Also note that the so-called stereotyped yellow/happy/collect opening is far from being the best one. However, I think that an Irrigation opening is the best one for discovering the game. Flexible and safe. Perfect for beginners.

My questions would be :
- Do you agree about the need for such starting engine?
- Do you agree that Temple, Academy, Trade Routes and Taxation are the most efficient starting engines?
- Do you agree that the proposed templates are the most efficient implementations of those engines using the standard rules?

Thanks !
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Tor Gjerde
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tublefou wrote:
Hi !
Academy (Writing)

Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none

Turn 2
Action 1: Settle City 2
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food
Current resources: 2 Food

Turn 3
Action 1: Advance – Writing (+1 Culture, -2 Food)
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Ore
Action 3: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Wood
Current resources: 1 Culture, 1 Ore, 1 Wood

Status Phase: Free Advance – Free Education (+1 Mood)

Turn 4
Action 1: Activate City 2 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Activate City 1 – Build Academy (+2 Ideas)
Action 3: Advance – Public Education (+2 Mood, -2 Ideas)
Current resources: 1 Culture, 3 Mood


This is not legal, as you are at this point limited to a maximum of two Mood tokens. You have to have spent at least one in order to receive one from the Free Education advance.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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To me, the limitation applies to Food, not to Mood.
 
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Tor Gjerde
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tublefou wrote:
To me, the limitation applies to Food, not to Mood.


These are two entirely separate limitations. Food is due to lacking the Storage advance; the relevant one is that Mood and Culture are limited to the number of yellow and blue advances made (the "arrow" tokens does not only track the triggering of Events, but also these limits).
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Tor Gjerde
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tublefou wrote:
Trade Routes

Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none

Turn 2
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: 1 Food

Turn 3
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Collect 1 Food
Action 2: Advance – Bartering (+1 Mood, -2 Food)
Action 3: Civic Improvement – City 1 happy (-1 Mood)
Current resources: none

Status Phase: Free Advance – Trade Routes

Turn 4
Free : Trade Routes (+2 Food)
Action 1: Advance – Currency (+1 Culture, -2 Food)

Situation after one action on Turn 4: 1 size-1 happy cities producing 2 resources, 2 free Gold per turn through Trade Routes and 2 settlers, 1 Culture, 3 advances, no event launched


This won't work either, as the settlers need to be within two hexes of separate non-angry cities owned by other players. There is no way this will be the case at this point.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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gjerde wrote:
These are two entirely separate limitations. Food is due to lacking the Storage advance; the relevant one is that Mood and Culture are limited to the number of yellow and blue advances made (the "arrow" tokens does not only track the triggering of Events, but also these limits).

Arg ! Missed that rule.
Thanks !
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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gjerde wrote:
This won't work either, as the settlers need to be within two hexes of separate non-angry cities owned by other players. There is no way this will be the case at this point.

Yes, there is.
Starting cities are 5 or 6 hexes away from each other. With 4 moves, you can reach starting cities.
 
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Tor Gjerde
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tublefou wrote:
Note 2: mountains are an issue. If your settlers get too much stuck, you may have to do something else or to delay the activation of Trade Routes by one turn (hopefully still with Currency).


While I'm being negative:

You mention the mountains problem only in one of the three engines that may suffer strongly from it. For this reason, I am not certain that any of these have a better expected value than engines starting with Irrigation, Civic Improvement, collect 2 food, as this is 100% failsafe. Of course, early movement with more than one unit gives you more control of the exploration, which might be very valuable.
 
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Tor Gjerde
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tublefou wrote:
gjerde wrote:
This won't work either, as the settlers need to be within two hexes of separate non-angry cities owned by other players. There is no way this will be the case at this point.

Yes, there is.
Starting cities are 5 or 6 hexes away from each other. With 4 moves, you can reach starting cities.


Provided you are not blocked by water, mountains or barbarians. Pretty slim odds to base a quick engine on.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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gjerde wrote:
You mention the mountains problem only in one of the three engines that may suffer strongly from it. For this reason, I am not certain that any of these have a better expected value than engines starting with Irrigation, Civic Improvement, collect 2 food, as this is 100% failsafe. Of course, early movement with more than one unit gives you more control of the exploration, which might be very valuable.

The other 2 do not suffer strongly from mountains. As said, you can settle near your starting city in worst case.

However, looking again at yellow/happy/collect openings, I now have the feeling that they can have different yet comparable value.
 
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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gjerde wrote:
Provided you are not blocked by water, mountains or barbarians. Pretty slim odds to base a quick engine on.

If you get stuck in the first turn, switch to another plan. If you get stuck later and can get 2 Food in turn 4, collect then advance Currency then move.
I agree that this opening pushes your luck and is best suited to 3-players games.
 
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Tor Gjerde
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gjerde wrote:
tublefou wrote:
gjerde wrote:
This won't work either, as the settlers need to be within two hexes of separate non-angry cities owned by other players. There is no way this will be the case at this point.

Yes, there is.
Starting cities are 5 or 6 hexes away from each other. With 4 moves, you can reach starting cities.


Provided you are not blocked by water, mountains or barbarians. Pretty slim odds to base a quick engine on.


Note that if only one of the settlers is blocked, it would yield a dramatically lower return on investment to continue with the other one.

I tried a somewhat slower version of this two days ago (after starting with Irrigation, Civic Improvement, Collect 2 Food, and only moving once per turn, meaning that mountains wouldn't block me). Barbarians blocked one of the settlers, and the other one only managed to establish a trade route because my other neighbour expanded towards me.
 
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tublefou wrote:
If you get stuck in the first turn, switch to another plan.


The point is that this will necessarily be a plan undisputedly worse than the "safe" start. If successful, the "two settlers, two moves" openings are presumably better than the safe one if you are lucky (none of the settlers hit mountains), but worse if you are unlucky. Without quantifying their respective values and computing the weighted average of lucky/unlucky 2s+2m openings, you can't tell which is more efficient.
 
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gjerde wrote:
tublefou wrote:
To me, the limitation applies to Food, not to Mood.


These are two entirely separate limitations. Food is due to lacking the Storage advance; the relevant one is that Mood and Culture are limited to the number of yellow and blue advances made (the "arrow" tokens does not only track the triggering of Events, but also these limits).


Would you mind to tell me where in the rules I'm able to find that?
 
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blackholexan wrote:
gjerde wrote:
... Mood and Culture are limited to the number of yellow and blue advances made (the "arrow" tokens does not only track the triggering of Events, but also these limits).


Would you mind to tell me where in the rules I'm able to find that?


Page 4, heading 'Culture & Happiness Level': 'The Culture and Happiness indicators mark the maximum number of Culture and Mood tokens you can have.'
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Carsten Jorgensen
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blackholexan wrote:
gjerde wrote:
tublefou wrote:
To me, the limitation applies to Food, not to Mood.


These are two entirely separate limitations. Food is due to lacking the Storage advance; the relevant one is that Mood and Culture are limited to the number of yellow and blue advances made (the "arrow" tokens does not only track the triggering of Events, but also these limits).


Would you mind to tell me where in the rules I'm able to find that?


It's on p.4 in the English rules. The very first thing under "Culture & Happiness Level", just above the two indicators.
 
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The problem with all of the openers that start with the following:

tublefou wrote:
Turn 1
Action 1: Activate City 1 – Build Settler (-2 Food)
Action 2: Move 2 Settlers
Action 3: Move 2 Settlers
Current resources: none


is that they are riskier than you think. Here is what all of the tiles in Clash of Cultures look like:


All Six tiles that have both Mountains and Water [8, 10, 11, 12, 15 and 16] can stop your movement cold with you not having a choice in how they get oriented [depending on which hex you entered] regardless of what tiles are around them. That's 37.5%.

If both your Settlers end up on Mountains [which I've seen happen multiple times], it's a huge setback. You are then forced to settle in a space that is constrained, lest your third action be lost or spent making your starting city Angry just to collect 1 Food. Settling a city on a mountain next to your starting city means that at least one of them will be incapable of collecting 2 food with 1 action, unless you advance Irrigation, putting us back to wondering why we didn't just go with it in the first place.
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While I agree with your general idea, I think you're underestimating the cost of terrain. For example, when a Settler explores, there is about a 14% chance to involuntarily hit a mountain (ignoring involuntary sea connections). If two Settlers explore two tiles each (e.g. for the Trade Routes opening), the odds that neither hits a mountain while exploring are only about 55%. And that's before we even consider that seas and mountains will likely block your progress. In short, I think the Trade Routes opening is much weaker than you've acknowledged. If you're still skeptical, I suggest setting up an experiment.

As has been pointed out previously, your Academy opening violates the Mood token limit; at the end of turn 4 you have 3 Mood tokens but can only store 2. Since you only have 2 Mood tokens, you can only make City 1 happy for one action, and you may has well have done that earlier for 1 Mood token. It's not clear to me that this opening is necessarily stronger than the Irrigation start followed by Academies.

While I'm a fan of the Taxation opening, I find that it really shines when you start with a card that allows either a free Advance or a free ICS. This allows you to get Dogma before you build your first Temple, so each Temple helps flesh out your Government tree. I typically swap to Autocracy later in the game because I end up with more Mood tokens than I know what to do with. Democracy and Theocracy work as well.
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Thibaut Palfer-Sollier
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Yes, I have realized that.
The most efficient openings with a neutral setup are the ones with a "Myths/Irrigation - City 1 happy - Collect 2 resources" first turn.
Just forget about what I said in this topic...

When I'll have some time, I'll come back with questions about neutral setup vs. happy setup (i.e. starting the game with city 1 already happy).

Thanks everyone !
 
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