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Subject: Trieste - Advanced Tactics rss

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Matt Ma
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This will cover some advanced tactics of the game. If you want to discover these tactics on your own as part of the experience of exploring the game design, then do not read the below. However, if you are in a competitive group of gamers and want to beat a player that is constantly winning, you are already winning and want to win more, or you are struggling against certain factions and tactics, enjoy. I will divide each section by faction with a difficulty assigned to each strategy.

Excuse the horrible names I am giving the strategies. Names aren’t my strong point.

HERO STRATEGIES TO COME LATER
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Matt Ma
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THIEF TACTICS
Back Alley Bully (easy): The Thief plays a Back Alley Mugger, steals an average of 2 treasures, and then immediately buys back the character at the end of turn. The Thief then dedicates their draw phase to always drawing two treasure cards and playing and buying back the character over and over again.

Overview: This is a very effective tactic if the Thief can acquire a Back Alley Mugger on Turn 2 or earlier. The game is still early enough that the City Watch may not have an answer to a level 2 Thief character. By the time the City Watch can stabilize its strategy and is prepared for the inevitable replay of this card, the Thief has jumped ahead with infamy points and left the Merchant in shambles.

Counter Strategy: The counter strategy is not intuitive. The Merchant actually has to stop drawing treasure and recognize that it is the successful theft of treasure that is fueling this momentum tactic. Once the Thief has committed to buying back the Back Alley Mugger and replaying it, they have committed a great deal of resources to do so. Failure to take money would put the Thief back at least one turn. This also slows the game down enough to give the City Watch time to draw and play an answer.

One-Two Punch (medium):
The Thief plays an attack card on the City Watch that they have no answer to. The choice cards would be Foxy Vixen or Inside Job. This is to temporarily stun the City Watch for a turn so that the following card you play against the Merchant will be unchallenged because the City Watch lacks the treasure to do so.

Overview: This tactic looks mediocre on the surface, but it is very effective for two reasons. 1) The infamy points gained off these two turns can be 3-5. A Thief that looked like it was far from winning may end up taking the game due the surprise factor. 2) If the City Watch misses the capture card on the turn the attack is played, then the City Watch wastes money and takes the effect of the attack. This may put the City Watch back 3-4 turns, which gives the Thief even more leeway to take advantage of its lead.

Counter Strategy: Pay attention. The Thief needs to save up money and cards to pull off the strategy. If the City Watch suspects something, Search Warrant and Raiding Party allow you to peek in their hand and disrupt the plan before it comes to fruition. The Merchant can also pre-empt the second “punch” by playing Black Market the turn before or a Security Guard or Bounty Hunter the next turn.

I Hate Foxy Vixen (hard): The Thief alternates between playing cost efficient level 0-1 and Thief characters alongside Copper/Silver and Foxy Vixen. Foxy Vixen is bought back either the turn it is played or the turn after. The choice target for Foxy Vixen is the City Watch. Its ability to evade capture while in the Thief’s hand makes it difficult for the City Watch to deal with without taking risks.

Overview: The Foxy Vixen is used on and off to punish the City Watch as they constantly are forced to guess what card the Thief will play next. With each miss, the City Watch falls further behind while the Thief races ahead in money and infamy points. This allows the Thief to successfully play even the easiest of level 1 characters against the Merchant as the City Watch is burning all their resources failing to get the Foxy Vixen.

Counter Strategy: The Merchant can recognize that the Thief can’t play games with the City Watch and still mount an effective offense against the Merchant. If the Merchant plays aggressively, the Thief won’t have enough resources left to put the Merchant back in check. The City Watch can also play passive captures such as Undercover Agent and Search Warrant to bypass the guessing and focus on the Thief’s hand and deck. Both tax cards also provide the much needed relief against the Thief by providing income or skewing the cost of cards in the City Watch’s favor. Getting hit by the Foxy Vixen is bad. Failing attempts to capture it are worse.
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Matt Ma
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MERCHANT TACTICS
Money Draw aka “Silver Surfer” (easy): The Merchant only draws from the Treasure Pile and plays every Silver card drawn as the card for turn in hopes of drawing more Silver cards. By only drawing money, the Merchant is constantly advancing towards the Victory condition while reducing uncertainty from drawing from the Merchant faction deck.

Overview: Dubbed the “best strategy” by initial game testers, this strategy works because it is very consistent. Every card drawn from the treasure pile advances the Merchant to victory. There is no dead card that can be drawn.

Counter Strategy: This tactic is very easily scouted by other players. Counters to this tactic are not as consistent, but are extremely effective when they are successful. The City Watch has the best counter to this tactic in the form of Contraband Checkpoint. If silver is played, the City Watch takes that Silver, which actually nets an extra treasure and capturing/denying the Thief level 1 or lower cards at the same time. The Thief, however, can change tactics. Selective stealing is best, making Veteran Pickpocket, Foxtail Gang, and Inside Job ideal for taking extra Silver and Gold cards before the Merchant can use them.

Black Market Bureaucracy (medium): The Merchant plays Bureaucrat, replaying Black Market and a treasure drawing action. An aggressive all-in play follows where the Merchant aggressively draws as many treasure cards as possible under the protection of the Black Market and snowball to victory. If another Black Market is played on the 2nd turn, then the Merchant is almost certainly guaranteed to win.

Overview: This strategy is very frustrating as the Merchant essentially gets at least 2 turns where you cannot steal/tax/disrupt it. The “all-in” nature of this tactic is also what makes it effective. The Merchant can literally win by establishing a lead so strong that the Thief cannot keep up with the treasure draw.

Counter Strategy: The Thief has the ability to make the Merchant discard cards. Although it is tempting to take that expensive treasure, sometimes the Thief should recognize that the Merchant is planning something devious the next few turns, and taking away the card that prevents them from winning is the better choice. If a Bureaucrat is spotted in the hand of the Merchant, and the Merchant is close to winning, taking it away may be the best play. The Merchant would have to spend money to buy back the Bureaucrat AND play it, which would lessen the snowball effect. The City Watch can also focus on capturing Thief characters from the discard pile and Thief deck during the turn Black Market is active to increase the cost of the Merchant victory condition.

1&1 (hard): The Merchant plays a balanced game of mostly drawing one Treasure card and one Merchant card a turn. The Merchant gradually dilutes the hand down to primarily coppers by constantly spending the largest drawn treasures to play the actions being drawn. Overtime, the Merchant overwhelms the other players by sheer hand size and card advantage.

Overview: The slow and steady strategy for the Merchant is not that flashy, but it gets the job done very well. By maintaining a hand of mostly Coppers, the Merchant is minimizing the damage done by Thief theft and the City Watch Income Tax (as they will always have a copper to give). The exceptionally large hand size also makes it difficult for players to gauge just how close the Merchant is to winning. Because Merchant cards are also being drawn, monopolies and other strong treasure drawing action cards make the strategy difficult hard counter.

Counter Strategy: The Merchant wants to draw out the game and let its giant hand size win the game. Income Tax is very effective in this setting because the small incremental loss in income every turn adds up over time. As a Thief, Street Urchin is ideal because it costs nothing. Cheaper Thieves are better as they are more cost efficient due to the inevitable copper glut that will result. This allows the Thief to save up money for Foxy Vixen and other attack cards on the City Watch.
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Matt Ma
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CITY WATCH TACTICS
Tax Rush (easy): The City Watch rushes to get a tax out on turn 1 or 2. This is done by paying for the tax, cheating it out with a Politician, or using Recruitment Officer to search for a Politician. The tax has maximum impact on the game state by being played early and puts the City Watch at an advantage the longer the game goes.

Overview: Either tax works to great effect. Depending on the cards in hand and in the discard pile, the City Watch will pick the tax that best takes advantage of the strategy. Income Tax hurts the Merchant more, while Security Tax hurts the Thief more. Both taxes allow the City Watch to play cards more freely while restricting a particular faction.

Counter Strategy: A tax being played early on does not mean automatic victory. Rushing into a tax means committing most (if not all) your money early on to play that tax. This means the Thief has free reign for the first few turns as the effects of the tax have not yet fully taken a toll and the City Watch is spent out on treasure. The Merchant can spot the passive play by the City Watch by using Security Guards. Because the City Watch will not be capturing any thieves, the Security Guard or Bounty Hunter will net a huge bonus for every successful block. The bonus for a successful Merchant defense in the early game is high enough that the City Watch will have difficulty catching up.

Thing are Better in 2s (medium): The City takes advantage of its strong level 2 cards to win with efficiency and consistency. Recruitment Officer ensures that the level 2 characters are either in your hand or in the discard pile for buying back. Security Tax reduces the cost of your level 2 cards. Level 2 captures allow you capture the best Thief characters to increase the Merchant victory condition while denying the Thief infamy points.

Overview: The City Watch normally worries about playing a capture card and missing. But its level 2 cards are more consistent and have the benefit of reducing infamy points. This allows the City Watch to capture less often, but make those captures count. Because missing a capture is less an issue, the City Watch can spend turns and saved treasure to buy back level 2 characters and keep replaying them.

Counter Strategy (without Security Tax): This strategy is expensive, so the City Watch cannot be taking action every turn. As a Thief, buying back should be off the table. Simply drawing cards aggressively and playing them every turn is your best bet as the City Watch cannot keep up with non-stop aggression from the Thief. Likewise, the Merchant knows that this tactic will be slow and steady, so countering with a long term strategy is very effective, as the City Watch will have a predictable capture rate, whereas no one knows how far the Merchant is towards its victory condition, giving the Merchant the element of surprise.

Counter Strategy (with early Security Tax): With a Security Tax, the counter strategy is the same as that for Tax Rush. The City Watch will be behind for 3-4 turns. Until then, the other two players can ignore the City Watch and focus on each other.

Urchin Round-up (hard): The City Watch focuses on capturing level 2 or high characters. This increases the cost of the Merchant victory condition the most, but allows for some Street Urchins and level 1 Thief characters to escape capture. Once there are 3 or more Thief characters with the same name in the discard pile (usually Street Urchins) the City Watch plays Issue Bounty to capture all those characters from the discard pile and races to victory.

Overview: Normally, the City Watch is the slow and steady faction. However, when this strategy is used, the City Watch can fulfill half their win condition on one turn. And because the City Watch gets turn priority to declare victory, a come from behind victory can surprise the other two players who had thought the City Watch was no threat up to that point.

Counter Strategy: Reluctance on the part of the City Watch to play Patrol Officers despite having a Street Urchin in the Thief discard pile exposes this tactic. Patrol Officer is a very safe play by the City Watch when a Street Urchin is in the discard pile, as it gives the option of either capturing the Street Urchin or a level 1 Thief character that might be played that same turn (It is a guarantee capture for the City Watch that costs no treasure). If Patrol Officers are not being played and the City Watch is focusing on drawing treasures and more faction cards (in hopes of drawing stronger level 2 captures), then the Thief should diversify the characters being played just to be safe. The City Watch is also more passive in this strategy, which allows the Thief to be more aggressive and play level 1 Thief characters more freely. For that reason, Security Guard or Bounty Hunter are effective Merchant options, as there will be less competition from the City Watch in stopping Thief characters.
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Eric Brosius
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My favorite 18xx game for six players is two games of 1846 with three players each.
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As a wargamer, when I read the title of this thread, it's hard not to think it's about how to win the Battles of the Isonzo as the Italians.
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Alan Emrich
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Matt, this advice is GOLDEN! Thanks for all your wonderful support of TRIESTE.

Your very proud and happy publisher,

Alan Emrich

P.S. Of course, don't let this get you too distracted from your NEXT game design...
 
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Christopher Graves
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D_Matt_Ma wrote:


HERO STRATEGIES TO COME LATER


I would still be interested in this. If it is floating around out there, point me towards it. Otherwise, you should write it!

The couple times I've played with heroes, the one that lets you take all your Urchins into your hand (I forget the lady's name) seems way too good.
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