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Subject: minimaxing your way to victory rss

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Frederic Bush
United States
Narberth
Pennsylvania
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I've played several four player games now and I'm convinced that this is the dominant strategy:

1) Focus on acquiring one type of landscape.

2) Relentlessly play cards that use/create that landscape.

3) Meanwhile, build as many buildings as you can afford to with your resources. Throw away off-suit landscapes to make room when you're out of empty space. Don't build bonus buildings unless they are fantastic.

That's basically it. Here's the rationale:

The build action is the strongest basic action available, assuming of course that you have enough resources to build something useful. The non-bonus buildings generate resources in their own right (either immediately, or by later processing), and most are worth more points than the resources they cost to build, so both directly and indirectly they're boosting your point total.

Your non-build actions are merely to accumulate enough resources to build. As you take more processing buildings, you need fewer and fewer outside resources to construct buildings (wood will generally be your limiting factor), and your builds become more efficient and you can select all the building roles if you want to.

The only action that competes with build in power is an action that gives you resources per landscape, when you have extras of that landscape. For instance, when you have 5 ponds on the board and have choice of 5 quartz dust or 5 water with the pond builder, that's a very strong action, and one worthy of being taken every round (assuming you have processing buildings to let you convert the excess).

The other virtue of these actions is that they are single actions and even if the card is played by someone else you will still get a powerful effect from the role you have selected; you're not relying on both effects of the card to make the card efficient. You are minimizing your maximum loss, which is a pretty good idea in a game like this. If you have 7 ponds everyone at the table can know that you're going to play pond builder but there's nothing they can do to stop you from taking your 7 resources.

The pond builder/forest manager/pit worker cards are also not particularly useful to your opponents to use unless they themselves have multiple landscapes of that type on their board. They'll have to gather their own resources to build, after all, and they may not need the basic 2 wood/clay/water. So you may even get the double effect of the roles.

The build cards serve both defensive and offensive purposes. They help you score points, and if you get both effects on a card like Builder or Cultivator you've made a very strong move. They also can mean that no opponent can build without you leeching an identical build action yourself, which means that neither of you gains advantage over the other. They weaken your opponents' best plays while giving you free strong actions of your own -- what's not to like?

At endgame you can look at bonus buildings, but with more than one round to go the processing and one-time power effects are important for ramping up production.

On round 4 I'm choosing whichever role I've got the landscapes to support (pond builder/forest manager/pit worker) and then all four builder roles.

There's my strategy -- do you see a good way to exploit it, other than by matching it?
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Fridjof B
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Tranby
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I think you might be right, it is a strong strategy.

In our 2p experience (we have played around 30 2p games, and a few with more players), definitly grabbing a (continous) landscape bonus building is the aim of the early round. But these don't always show up as early as you want, and later (late round two and onwards) it is too late to benefit greatly from them.

Yesterday, I built one of these (ponds) in round 1. My wife knew I was racing for it, so humbly she made a different plan. She was lucky and drew the Masons' Guild ("Maurerzunft") with the FL in the same round, which she later built. She also focused on trading houses, as well as Forester' Office ("Forstmeisterei") Hunting Lodge ("Jagdhütte"). She was only able to play four cards each round (obviously I got to play five each round) except last round with five cards both of us. I thought she would pick Pondbuilder and the Landscape architect, because she knew my major bonus strategy. But she ignored it.
I felt I had played perfectly - which I usually never do in Glass Road (I love that with this game!) - but she won 28 to 24.

 
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Frederic Bush
United States
Narberth
Pennsylvania
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greetingsfrombergen wrote:
I think you might be right, it is a strong strategy.

In our 2p experience (we have played around 30 2p games, and a few with more players), definitly grabbing a (continous) landscape bonus building is the aim of the early round. But these don't always show up as early as you want, and later (late round two and onwards) it is too late to benefit greatly from them.

Yesterday, I built one of these (ponds) in round 1. My wife knew I was racing for it, so humbly she made a different plan. She was lucky and drew the Masons' Guild ("Maurerzunft") with the FL in the same round, which she later built. She also focused on trading houses, as well as Forester' Office ("Forstmeisterei") Hunting Lodge ("Jagdhütte"). She was only able to play four cards each round (obviously I got to play five each round) except last round with five cards both of us. I thought she would pick Pondbuilder and the Landscape architect, because she knew my major bonus strategy. But she ignored it.
I felt I had played perfectly - which I usually never do in Glass Road (I love that with this game!) - but she won 28 to 24.


I have not played 2 player, but it seems quite expensive to build those continuous landscape bonus buildings early. They take the equivalent of 11-13 resources to build, and while they have a very big potential score at the end the tempo hit is very large. They also prevent you from using a processing building to remove your landscapes in the last round, which can be very efficient.

 
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Charles Washington
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I almost exclusively play 4 player, with a few 3p games thrown in. At that number, you will never get the double action, as someone will always have Cultivator and (Forest Manager / Pond Builder / Pit Worker) in their hand every round.

It is a strong strategy though, my worse loss involved my opponent (Keith) taking the 4 block Forest tile (Forester Lodge) off the building board and drawing the contiguous forest building (Forester Office) and the remove 2 private offer building tiles for a landscape tile of choice(district office) in his private offer.

I think he scored 43 to my 22 and lamented not doubling my score. This building combo has not been replicated yet.

In another 4p game, my opponent got 31 out of 32 possible actions. She naturally won that game as well, though others had slightly better building synergy than her.

So I have seen good overall strategy, building synergy, and accurate action selection prediction all win this game. And I like it.
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Eetu Laukka
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...then discard a card.
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This strategy seems like it can certainly be effective, but I believe it needs some enablers. For example, if you're focusing ponds you really want something to do with all that sand and water you produce; sand and water don't do much by themselves. On the other hand, converting them into bricks or clay is powerful. Focusing in groves or pits seems far more effective, since wood and clay can actually be used to construct buildings. Pits offer even some points in the form of sand when you've maxed out on clay.

The highest scores I have seen being scored always included heavy focus in pits. That allowed the players to gain insane amounts of clay. However, those players had one or two bonus buildings which required pits and they also had supporting conversion buildings.

If I understood correctly, you do not build bonus buildings, and only build as many processing buildings and immediate buildings as you can, and try to score off of those. Is this correct? What are the scores you are getting, and are you playing 3p or 4p?
 
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Frederic Bush
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Narberth
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ScoopArt wrote:
This strategy seems like it can certainly be effective, but I believe it needs some enablers. For example, if you're focusing ponds you really want something to do with all that sand and water you produce; sand and water don't do much by themselves. On the other hand, converting them into bricks or clay is powerful. Focusing in groves or pits seems far more effective, since wood and clay can actually be used to construct buildings. Pits offer even some points in the form of sand when you've maxed out on clay.

The highest scores I have seen being scored always included heavy focus in pits. That allowed the players to gain insane amounts of clay. However, those players had one or two bonus buildings which required pits and they also had supporting conversion buildings.

If I understood correctly, you do not build bonus buildings, and only build as many processing buildings and immediate buildings as you can, and try to score off of those. Is this correct? What are the scores you are getting, and are you playing 3p or 4p?

I've been playing 4 player, scores from 27-30.

I do build bonus buildings, they're just low priority until it gets to turn 3 or turn 4. I think processing shenanigans generate more points in the long term than even the strongest bonus building if built early, although I could be wrong.

All of the landscapes have value. Wood is great but it is guaranteed that other people will be competing for it. Clay is also good for building but there's no conversion for clay except into quartz sand, which is not great, but the clay in itself is useful. Water is not that good for direct building but has a lot of processing buildings, as well as a second role that can give you 1 food per pond, which mitigates the problem. I usually aim for the landscape that has an early processing building, and try to be the first to buy the building but if there's an immediate building that produces landscapes that can also dictate my direction of play.

edited to add: one game I started out as first player, and I saw the loess plateau on the building offer, so I opened with carpenter -> loess plateau as my first play, with pit worker in hand for later in the round. I think the first play carpenter also meant that one of my opponents followed but had no legal builds.

You've narrowed your options at that point, taken -1 VPs, and people can hate build things that rely on pits or choose pit worker to leech, but 5 clay/5 sand is still a really potent move, and those excess pits can be turned into resources or points later with further buildings.
 
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Joe Miner
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Seeing how you kick my @** every time we play, I shall not doubt your strategy. I shall just try to find ways to play better.
 
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Frederic Bush
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Joe Miner wrote:
Seeing how you kick my @** every time we play, I shall not doubt your strategy. I shall just try to find ways to play better.

Well, what got me thinking was that game we played where you had the massive clump of landscapes (orchards?) and two scoring buildings for that landscape, which landed you some ridiculously huge number of points (15?), but you got jammed up because you couldn't get other resources efficiently.
 
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