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Subject: Some Strategic Observations rss

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Tyler M
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I’ve had Fleet and Fleet: Arctic Bounty for a about a week now and have half a dozen plays under my belt. My family absolutely loves it! Here’s what I’ve observed so far in terms of basic Fleet strategy, in the form of five strategic maxims:

Strategic Maxim #1: Card draw is king.

As with many similar games (San Juan, Race for the Galaxy), getting your economic engine humming early is the best way to win a game of Fleet. Licenses that reliably deliver an extra card every turn for minimal investment (e.g. Processing Vessel, Lobster, Tuna) are highly valuable pickups in the early game. The cheaper licenses – Cod/Shrimp/Oyster/Char – require you to repeatedly launch boats to maximize their effect, which will make it hard for you to stay competitive in the license auction.

Strategic Maxim #2: Licenses > Boats.

This plays off of the first observation. Most boats are technically more efficient than licenses in terms of cost/VP ratio, but they (usually) don’t contribute to your economic engine. Therefore, I prioritize acquiring a new license nearly every turn if possible, and THEN worry about launching new boats (obviously there are exceptions depending on the situation). Rarely will I pass up a license to launch a boat; Gone Fishing is NOT a substitute for a good license.

Strategic Maxim #3: Thou shalt not overbid in the first round.

Don’t pay more than $1 above cost for anything in the first round. If you pay the extra buck, it’d better be for a Processing Vessel, Salmon, or Lobster.

Strategic Maxim #4: Diversify thy licenses.

Some licenses scale well and are worth getting duplicates (e.g. PVL, Cod), but for many the second tier gives a considerably weaker effect than the first (Tuna, Lobster, Char). Sure, two Shrimp is good, but the third’s effect is marginal, King Crabs notwithstanding. I’d often prefer to get one of each kind, and I’ve been rewarded for that approach when the “diversity” King Crab license shows up. Speaking of premium licenses, they are obviously a different ballgame – I have no problem with duplicates there!

Strategic Maxim #5: Thou shalt acquire premium licenses.

In my limited experience, it seems that the guy with the most premiums wins a majority of the time. Maybe this one is obvious. Anyway, I don’t care if you’re double-launching cheap shrimp boats every turn – the guy collecting King Crabs, Fisherman’s Pubs, and DFOs is the one I’m most concerned about. There aren’t many premiums in the deck, so be aggressive in your bidding for these when they show up.


I’m sure I’m just touching the tip of the arctic iceberg in terms of strategy – let me know if I forgot anything important!
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Ben Pinchback
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Leonard
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Fantastic post. Keep discovering and definitely keep sharing.
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Tyler M
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Thanks, Ben. I'm sure I'll have more to add after we've tried the Bay cards...can't wait to break those out soon!
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Karl Fast
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I think these strategy observations depend on two factors.

First, the cards you're playing with. If you are playing straight Fleet, my experiences are similar. But if you're mix and matching with the Arctic Bounty and any mini-expansions, then you really need to consider how certain licenses might combo with each other.

Second, the licenses that come up in the first few rounds. You know the licenses available in the first two rounds before you launch any boats. These licenses will give benefits for the entire game. If a lot of shrimp licenses come up early, that is rather different than a couple of Cod licenses and no shrimp, or a more even distribution. The value of a license can be amplified in three ways: how many of a license you can get, the licenses you can combo it with, and critically, how early a license becomes available.

My experience does match these observations, for the base game, but these heuristics can go right out the window in the right circumstances. And with all the possible combinations from the expansions and promos, I've found those circumstances can happen a lot more often than with the base game.
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