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Subject: The Splendor "Color Wheel" - some observations rss

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Matt Davis
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So, I wanted to make a post containing some observations I've made about the development cards in Splendor and their costs. This isn't exactly a deep analysis, but I think it's worth talking about.

The main point is that Splendor is built around "affinities" between colors in a systematic way, similar to color synergy in Magic: The Gathering. This is reinforced in card colors and costs, and most importantly in the nobles.

Imagine a color wheel arranged in the following order (clockwise): Green, Red, Black, White, Blue. (Magic players will notice that blue and white are swapped from Magic's version of this wheel. Why???!?!?!? ) Every noble is based on this color wheel. So the 4/4 nobles are all pairs of neighbors in this color wheel, and the 3/3/3 nobles use the sequences of 3 colors in a row around the wheel. This is pretty obvious if you look at the nobles closely, particularly since it creates the overlap between the colors on two nobles that often occurs. (Blue/R/G and R/G appearing together, for example.)

But the interesting thing is that this also plays out in the Tier 3 development cards, and to a lesser extent, in the lower tiers as well. Colors next to each other on the color wheel tend to appear together in costs of cards, and spending gems of a certain color tends to buy you gems of neighboring colors. The development cards are (almost) all symmetric with respect to the color wheel. The cards that cost 7 of one color give you a gem of that color's right-hand neighbor. There are cards that cost 7 of one color and 3 of that color's right-hand neighbor give a gem of that right-hand color. There are cards that cost 6 of one color and 3 of each of its neighboring colors. Many of the cards in the game are grouped around this color wheel, with some exceptions, especially in the lower tiers.

For example, in the Tier 1 cards, there is one card of each color that costs 3 of one color, and 1 each of two other colors. The colors on these cards are still in the 3-color groupings - it costs Bk/R/W to get a black gem, Bu/R/G to get a green gem, etc. However, what you need 3 of is not symmetric around the circle. It takes 3 blue to get a green and 3 green to get a blue; then 3 black to get a red and 3 red to get a black. But then it takes 3 white gems to buy another white gem on that particular card. But other than those cards, everything else is completely symmetric. There are some cards that don't quite match the "affinity" idea - you've probably seen the Tier 1 cards that let you buy a gem of a certain color for one of each other color gem. But most of the cards respect these affinities, at least in the long run. Sometimes, red helps you get more red. Other times, white helps you get more white...those little twists seem to balance out overall around the Tier 1 and 2 cards.

So, what does any of this mean? First of all, I think it's a key and subtle design choice. It allows the strategy of focusing on a few key colors to rush for a noble and a high-point card with some matching colors. If the colors on cards were sort of randomly arranged, it would be much harder to build a strategy around focusing on a set of colors, and really make the "grab all the level 1 cards you can" the only viable strategy. Secondly, I think it can really have an effect on strategy. Even if I'm aiming for the G/R noble and the 5 point card that costs green and red, I should probably also be sure to grab lots of blue gems and cards, since they will tend to help me get lots of green.

Now, in the long run, I'm not sure that knowing this has a huge effect on the way that I play. The vagaries of which cards come up and what my opponents are grabbing tend to have a much larger effect on things. But I find keeping the patterns on the cards in mind does help me focus my tactics well. If I'm going for green cards, I'll try to keep one each of all the other colors so I can grab that green card immediately when it comes up. Otherwise, when in doubt, I take blue and red gems to make sure I have those as well.

Thoughts?
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Harry Hammermueller
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Interesting observation! I've played splendor probably 40 times now and I agree that you have to play the cards and nobles that come out as well as the other players and what they appear to be after. The only deck I've seen exhausted is the tier 1 deck so you just can't count on any specific cards being available from the other decks. I've seen the majority of a tier 1 color gem all be grouped at the bottom of the deck as well (red for example, which really screwed up any big plans for a red empire in that game). I've seen victories based on almost no tier 1 card acquisitions by a player, although its been rare. I do agree that getting at least one of each color usually helps. I've even grabbed a majority of one color of chips and hung on to them to screw up other players, although that only works if you already have a nice little engine already going.

This game has so much variability going on in it.
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Aelfric Brewer
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coolpapa wrote:
So, what does any of this mean? First of all, I think it's a key and subtle design choice. It allows the strategy of focusing on a few key colors to rush for a noble and a high-point card with some matching colors. If the colors on cards were sort of randomly arranged, it would be much harder to build a strategy around focusing on a set of colors, and really make the "grab all the level 1 cards you can" the only viable strategy. Secondly, I think it can really have an effect on strategy. Even if I'm aiming for the G/R noble and the 5 point card that costs green and red, I should probably also be sure to grab lots of blue gems and cards, since they will tend to help me get lots of green.


I've never seen anyone make "grab all the level 1 cards you can" a viable strategy. People just never need more than a few level 1 cards, and that only when there is no other way to put together the purchasing power for a particular target. I have seen the level 2 deck run out in a 4-player game (with every player reserving at least one or two of them). But there's never much demand for the 1 deck cards.

Otherwise, this is useful to know. If you need to gather (for example) green to pay for a particular card from the 3 deck, then it's great to know that blue is most helpful to get those greens, and you should avoid black/white. So thank you.

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coolpapa wrote:
Splendor is built around "affinities" between colors in a systematic way, similar to color synergy in Magic: The Gathering.

Interesting that your note came out around the same time as this image ("Splendor : The Gathering "):
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Matt Davis
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aelfric_brewer wrote:


I've never seen anyone make "grab all the level 1 cards you can" a viable strategy. People just never need more than a few level 1 cards, and that only when there is no other way to put together the purchasing power for a particular target. I have seen the level 2 deck run out in a 4-player game (with every player reserving at least one or two of them). But there's never much demand for the 1 deck cards.



This comment is really fascinating to me, because my group fell into the groupthink very early on of "if you can get a card for free, take it". This leads quickly to "if you can get a card for only 1 chip, almost always take it", which means the 1 deck snowballs on itself and disappears quite quickly if everyone is playing that way. Then in the end game, you get level 2 cards (and sometimes level 3) cards for free. So it can be effective depending on the board setup. It's also not that rare for someone to get 3 of every color (all from deck 1) and claim three of the 3/3/3 nobles, which gets them pretty close to winning. Naturally, that all depends on the order of the cards, etc., but it's not crazy when it happens.

In fact, I had to convince myself that "grab as many cards as cheaply as possible" isn't the dominant strategy of this game. (I feel like it might be in 2-player, so we play 2-player to 20 points.) Of course, YMMV.
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Harry Hammermueller
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I agree. I've seen all sorts of strategies win, but most often it's been a combined strategy of getting a number of tier one cards then start getting tier two and three cheaply while also working towards grabbing nobles. In other threads people say that getting quite a few tier one cards is a newbie strategy but I'm not convinced. We'd have to compare the actual number of rounds it takes to win on average with either strategy to maybe come to a conclusion on which tends to be faster.
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Daniel Kearns
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Both groups I've played with aggressively go after points, mostly reaching for the second tier early and reserving good cards in tier 3.

So I've never seen the tier 1 hoarding strategy and I've seldom seen the nobles come into play. They're strong when they are taken though.
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Aelfric Brewer
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We rarely have a game where the winner has purchased more than about 10 cards or so. Getting 15 cards in one game would be unheard of, no game would ever last that long. Turns are too valuable to squander on buying pointless cards. If you need a card to complete your spending power for a card from the 2 or 3 deck, you get it; but if you don't get points from it and you don't specifically need it to get a points card, you will be passed by the other players.
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Matt Davis
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It could also be a player count issue to some extent. If hoarding tier 1 cards is viable, it's certainly least effective at 4 players where there are fewer cards to go around. It's also possible I just haven't fully broken out of that initial groupthink. I think I will keep tracking total number of turns during games to see. Guess I'll just have to play lots more Splendor now.
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I'd be very interested in seeing roughly how many turns it takes. I do think that running immediately for the high point cards has a clearly faster 'goldfish,' that is, it will reach 15 faster than an engine-building strategy in a solo scenario. But my theory is that it balances out more when people try to block each other. If someone goes for a high point card right off the bat, you can block them by either reserving the card if they take chips first, or taking their chips if they reserve first. Engine-building seems to be more flexible.
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Let me give an example, where players take the maximum 3 chips each time, and always can use their cards in the next purchase, just for argument's sake:

Suppose you plan to buy some cards you don't really need from the 1 deck, at an average cost of 4 chips each:
turn 1: 3 chips (have 3)
turn 2: 3 chips (have 6)
turn 3: purchase (cost 4, have 2)
turn 4 3 chips (have 5)
turn 5: purchase (cost 4 minus 1, have 2)
turn 6: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 7: purchase (cost 4 minus 2, have 3)
turn 8: purchase (cost 4 minus 3, have 2)
turn 9: purchase (cost 4 minus 4, have 2).
You'll spend 4 turns gathering the chips, and 5 interspersed turns buying cards, so 9 turns gone by for 5 permanent spending power. You then have 5 cards (assume one each color) and 2 chips, and 0 points.

Suppose your opponent wants to buy cards from the 2 deck while you're doing that, at an average cost of 7 chips each. (Probably less because he'll grab the occasional 5- or 6-cost card, but for this example assume 7.)
turn 1: 3 chips (have 3)
turn 2: 3 chips (have 6)
turn 3: 3 chips (have 9)
turn 4: purchase (cost 7, have 2)
turn 5: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 6: 3 chips (have 8)
turn 7: purchase (cost 7 minus 1, have 2)
turn 8: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 9: purchase (cost 7 minus 2, have 0)

Over the same 9 turns he would buy 3 cards compared to your 5, have no chips on hand, and around 6 points -- 40% of what he needs to win.

Assume that by this point, you can no longer use every card you have to purchase from the 2 deck - because there will be a large number of one color required for each purchase, and nothing uses every color, so your 2 card advantage actually gives an average of 1 chip discount per purchase better than your opponent, because half the time the extra card is not used in a purchase. Again, just for example.

How long will it take you to catch up 6 points? On average, from the 2 deck, 3 more purchases than your opponent. Your single card discount advantage (an average, per purchase) would take around 7 purchases to pay for itself with a card from the 2 deck, even if you basically use the same strategy as your opponent from this point on.

I estimate it would take 20 turns for your cards from the 1 deck to pay for themselves, with 3 two-point cards from the 2 deck, to catch up.

Even if you opponent doesn't accelerate his game, it would take him at most 10-12 more turns to get 9 more points and reach 15 points.

In other words, he'll win at least half a dozen turns before you can catch up.
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Sonny Blount
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Yeah, the colour combos are throughout the cards.

I always do a 2 colour strategy and they are always complementary, if they are not then you simply will not win.

Just the match between the 2 colour nobles and the 5 pt 7/3 cards is enough.
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Locke_Daemonfire wrote:
I'd be very interested in seeing roughly how many turns it takes. I do think that running immediately for the high point cards has a clearly faster 'goldfish,' that is, it will reach 15 faster than an engine-building strategy in a solo scenario. But my theory is that it balances out more when people try to block each other. If someone goes for a high point card right off the bat, you can block them by either reserving the card if they take chips first, or taking their chips if they reserve first. Engine-building seems to be more flexible.


If you do the block right, then you own that 2 colour strategy. So the way to do it safely is to block it for yourself.

The option, is if there is an obviously better 2 colour strat in the deal, go for a complementary colour strat that isn't in the initial layout on the assumption that the cards will come up during the game. Then you should have less competition.
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aelfric_brewer wrote:
We rarely have a game where the winner has purchased more than about 10 cards or so. Getting 15 cards in one game would be unheard of, no game would ever last that long. Turns are too valuable to squander on buying pointless cards. If you need a card to complete your spending power for a card from the 2 or 3 deck, you get it; but if you don't get points from it and you don't specifically need it to get a points card, you will be passed by the other players.


yeah, 8 cards is the goal, and the winner usually has 9 to make up the points if they aren't within that group.

4 cards of 2 different colours, incl the 3 pts for the noble, 2 4-5pt cards leaves 2-3 pts to pick up on the way.
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coolpapa wrote:
aelfric_brewer wrote:


I've never seen anyone make "grab all the level 1 cards you can" a viable strategy. People just never need more than a few level 1 cards, and that only when there is no other way to put together the purchasing power for a particular target. I have seen the level 2 deck run out in a 4-player game (with every player reserving at least one or two of them). But there's never much demand for the 1 deck cards.



This comment is really fascinating to me, because my group fell into the groupthink very early on of "if you can get a card for free, take it". This leads quickly to "if you can get a card for only 1 chip, almost always take it", which means the 1 deck snowballs on itself and disappears quite quickly if everyone is playing that way. Then in the end game, you get level 2 cards (and sometimes level 3) cards for free. So it can be effective depending on the board setup. It's also not that rare for someone to get 3 of every color (all from deck 1) and claim three of the 3/3/3 nobles, which gets them pretty close to winning. Naturally, that all depends on the order of the cards, etc., but it's not crazy when it happens.

In fact, I had to convince myself that "grab as many cards as cheaply as possible" isn't the dominant strategy of this game. (I feel like it might be in 2-player, so we play 2-player to 20 points.) Of course, YMMV.


But like a lot of games the real currency is actions. It is quite expensive to spend an action that you don't ultimately need.

I quite often leave cards on the table that I could take for free. If they are not part of the equation for picking up the 4 and 5 pt cards.

And if a card is going to give you a discount you are only going to use once you may as well take coins instead and get effectively up to 3 discounts.
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aelfric_brewer wrote:
Let me give an example, where players take the maximum 3 chips each time, and always can use their cards in the next purchase, just for argument's sake:

Suppose you plan to buy some cards you don't really need from the 1 deck, at an average cost of 4 chips each:
turn 1: 3 chips (have 3)
turn 2: 3 chips (have 6)
turn 3: purchase (cost 4, have 2)
turn 4 3 chips (have 5)
turn 5: purchase (cost 4 minus 1, have 2)
turn 6: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 7: purchase (cost 4 minus 2, have 3)
turn 8: purchase (cost 4 minus 3, have 2)
turn 9: purchase (cost 4 minus 4, have 2).
You'll spend 4 turns gathering the chips, and 5 interspersed turns buying cards, so 9 turns gone by for 5 permanent spending power. You then have 5 cards (assume one each color) and 2 chips, and 0 points.

Suppose your opponent wants to buy cards from the 2 deck while you're doing that, at an average cost of 7 chips each. (Probably less because he'll grab the occasional 5- or 6-cost card, but for this example assume 7.)
turn 1: 3 chips (have 3)
turn 2: 3 chips (have 6)
turn 3: 3 chips (have 9)
turn 4: purchase (cost 7, have 2)
turn 5: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 6: 3 chips (have 8)
turn 7: purchase (cost 7 minus 1, have 2)
turn 8: 3 chips (have 5)
turn 9: purchase (cost 7 minus 2, have 0)

Over the same 9 turns he would buy 3 cards compared to your 5, have no chips on hand, and around 6 points -- 40% of what he needs to win.

Assume that by this point, you can no longer use every card you have to purchase from the 2 deck - because there will be a large number of one color required for each purchase, and nothing uses every color, so your 2 card advantage actually gives an average of 1 chip discount per purchase better than your opponent, because half the time the extra card is not used in a purchase. Again, just for example.

How long will it take you to catch up 6 points? On average, from the 2 deck, 3 more purchases than your opponent. Your single card discount advantage (an average, per purchase) would take around 7 purchases to pay for itself with a card from the 2 deck, even if you basically use the same strategy as your opponent from this point on.

I estimate it would take 20 turns for your cards from the 1 deck to pay for themselves, with 3 two-point cards from the 2 deck, to catch up.

Even if you opponent doesn't accelerate his game, it would take him at most 10-12 more turns to get 9 more points and reach 15 points.

In other words, he'll win at least half a dozen turns before you can catch up.



The same efficiency also applies to the chips as it does the cards.

I will usually prefer to take 2 of a kind in the colours I need rather than 3 singles of different colours.

Or if the required colours are empty a single gold coin can be better than 3 of the wrong coins.
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coolpapa wrote:
So, I wanted to make a post containing some observations I've made about the development cards in Splendor and their costs. This isn't exactly a deep analysis, but I think it's worth talking about.

The main point is that Splendor is built around "affinities" between colors in a systematic way, similar to color synergy in Magic: The Gathering. This is reinforced in card colors and costs, and most importantly in the nobles.

Imagine a color wheel arranged in the following order (clockwise): Green, Red, Black, White, Blue. (Magic players will notice that blue and white are swapped from Magic's version of this wheel. Why???!?!?!? ) Every noble is based on this color wheel. So the 4/4 nobles are all pairs of neighbors in this color wheel, and the 3/3/3 nobles use the sequences of 3 colors in a row around the wheel. This is pretty obvious if you look at the nobles closely, particularly since it creates the overlap between the colors on two nobles that often occurs. (Blue/R/G and R/G appearing together, for example.)

But the interesting thing is that this also plays out in the development cards. Colors next to each other on the color wheel tend to appear together in costs of cards, and spending gems of a certain color tends to buy you gems of neighboring colors. The development cards are (almost) all symmetric with respect to the color wheel. The cards that cost 7 of one color give you a gem of that color's right-hand neighbor. There are cards that cost 7 of one color and 3 of that color's right-hand neighbor give a gem of that right-hand color. There are cards that cost 6 of one color and 3 of each of its neighboring colors. Most of the cards in the game are grouped around this color wheel, with one weird exception.

In the Tier 1 cards, there is one card of each color that costs 3 of one color, and 1 each of two other colors. The colors on these cards are still in the 3-color groupings - it costs Bk/R/W to get a black gem, Bu/R/G to get a green gem, etc. However, what you need 3 of is not symmetric around the circle. It takes 3 blue to get a green and 3 green to get a blue; then 3 black to get a red and 3 red to get a black. But then it takes 3 white gems to buy another white gem on that particular card. But other than those cards, everything else is completely symmetric. There are some cards that don't quite match the "affinity" idea - you've probably seen the Tier 1 cards that let you buy a gem of a certain color for one of each other color gem. But most of the cards respect these affinities.

So, what does any of this mean? First of all, I think it's a key and subtle design choice. It allows the strategy of focusing on a few key colors to rush for a noble and a high-point card with some matching colors. If the colors on cards were sort of randomly arranged, it would be much harder to build a strategy around focusing on a set of colors, and really make the "grab all the level 1 cards you can" the only viable strategy. Secondly, I think it can really have an effect on strategy. Even if I'm aiming for the G/R noble and the 5 point card that costs green and red, I should probably also be sure to grab lots of blue gems and cards, since they will tend to help me get lots of green.

Now, in the long run, I'm not sure that knowing this has a huge effect on the way that I play. The vagaries of which cards come up and what my opponents are grabbing tend to have a much larger effect on things. But I find keeping the patterns on the cards in mind does help me focus my tactics well. If I'm going for green cards, I'll try to keep one each of all the other colors so I can grab that green card immediately when it comes up. Otherwise, when in doubt, I take blue and red gems to make sure I have those as well.

Thoughts?


It certainly does.

If for instance the top row cards make you decide to go green. Then I will decide right then and there to go a second colour at the same time and that colour will be red or blue.

If I went white or black with green then I will lose.

Everyone in our group knows the colour combos, and everyone knows that 2 colour strats usually win, so the first turn or two you can see make a coouple of player going blue/green and another red/greem so then you decide to go white/black for example.

There is often a balance between who is willing to be most defensive early of the 2 colours which seem dominant on the setup vs players choosing 2 colours which they expect less competition in and waiting for their cards to come up.
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@aelfric_brewer:

Well, I think there are several issues with your analysis. (I know it's a rough estimate, and I certainly get your larger point.) The 7-cost cards that are worth 2 points are the ones that cost 4 of one color, meaning to get the gems for them as your first buy, you'd need to take 2 of one color with one of your turns. And the cards that cost 3/2/2 are only worth 1 point, which makes a big difference.

It also doesn't seem quite accurate to assume that the hypothetical tier-2 only player will always be able to use all of their gems or be able to buy all those 7-cost cards that they want - if they end up with 1 each of lots of colors, that doesn't help much with those 4 or 5 point cards that cost 7 of one color. And if the game starts off with lots of cards that cost 5 or 6 of one color, then those are really difficult to buy as your first gem.

Now I know, it's a straw man to take your argument literally - you're not advocating for always only buying tier 2 cards. I agree that buying cards you don't need just because they're cheap or free gem-wise is a total trap and is a mistake new players make very easily. But like I said above, buying lots of cards is a strategy aimed at getting 2 or 3 nobles, and as such heavily depends on the opening setup.
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The big problem with buying cards just to get to nobles is that you need a LOT of cards - 8 or 9 - the get 3 points. That's almost all the cards you're likely to get during a game. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that the cards just happen to come out such so that you can get both points and nobles from the same purchases.

But if you must choose, nobles are simply too slow to get points. Even if you already have 4 or 5 of the cards you need, buying 3 more cards to get a 3 point noble is inefficient. You would basically need at least 2 colors overlapping between different nobles to make it a strategy even worth considering (unlikely in the 2 player game), and even then it's unlikely to work out. Even buying cheap cards from the 1 deck at 3 cost each means an average of 2 turns per card; if you need 4 cheap cards above and beyond your point cards, that's at least 8 extra turns to get them, for a 3 point noble.

Basically, if you can grab a noble by purchasing, say, 2 extra cheap 3 cost cards, consider doing it, but if you need more cards (and turns) than that, it's probably too slow to be competitive.

If it helps the example go down easier, assume a 3-2-2 on the first purchase and a 3 point 6 cost card by the third purchase, or similar. 2 points and 7 cost were simply average numbers thrown out there to use as an example of the general principle: looking at how many (fractional) points you gain per turn gives a realistic understanding of your progress toward victory conditions.
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hammermh wrote:
I've even grabbed a majority of one color of chips and hung on to them to screw up other players, although that only works if you already have a nice little engine already going.


The one time I've done that all it did was screw me over.
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aelfric_brewer wrote:
The big problem with buying cards just to get to nobles is that you need a LOT of cards - 8 or 9 - the get 3 points. That's almost all the cards you're likely to get during a game. It's unlikely (but not impossible) that the cards just happen to come out such so that you can get both points and nobles from the same purchases.

But if you must choose, nobles are simply too slow to get points. Even if you already have 4 or 5 of the cards you need, buying 3 more cards to get a 3 point noble is inefficient. You would basically need at least 2 colors overlapping between different nobles to make it a strategy even worth considering (unlikely in the 2 player game), and even then it's unlikely to work out. Even buying cheap cards from the 1 deck at 3 cost each means an average of 2 turns per card; if you need 4 cheap cards above and beyond your point cards, that's at least 8 extra turns to get them, for a 3 point noble.

Basically, if you can grab a noble by purchasing, say, 2 extra cheap 3 cost cards, consider doing it, but if you need more cards (and turns) than that, it's probably too slow to be competitive.

If it helps the example go down easier, assume a 3-2-2 on the first purchase and a 3 point 6 cost card by the third purchase, or similar. 2 points and 7 cost were simply average numbers thrown out there to use as an example of the general principle: looking at how many (fractional) points you gain per turn gives a realistic understanding of your progress toward victory conditions.


So, I wanted to play a couple more games before coming back to this conversation. My wife and I played about 5 games tonight, and I experimented some with both strategies - playing as much Tier 1 as possible, and playing as little Tier 1 as possible. I'm at least 90% on your side as of right now. We'd been playing to 20 points because we felt 2-player games felt too short - we had to crank it to 25 to make "All tier 1s, all the time" seem viable. I can still imagine it working in some edge cases - the Tier 2 cards being stacked with lots of cards costing 5 or 6 of one color, but I do feel I was overvaluing level 1 cards before. Thanks for the discussion and pointers!
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J Young
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Irving
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coolpapa wrote:
aelfric_brewer wrote:


I've never seen anyone make "grab all the level 1 cards you can" a viable strategy. People just never need more than a few level 1 cards, and that only when there is no other way to put together the purchasing power for a particular target. I have seen the level 2 deck run out in a 4-player game (with every player reserving at least one or two of them). But there's never much demand for the 1 deck cards.



This comment is really fascinating to me, because my group fell into the groupthink very early on of "if you can get a card for free, take it". This leads quickly to "if you can get a card for only 1 chip, almost always take it", which means the 1 deck snowballs on itself and disappears quite quickly if everyone is playing that way. Then in the end game, you get level 2 cards (and sometimes level 3) cards for free. So it can be effective depending on the board setup. It's also not that rare for someone to get 3 of every color (all from deck 1) and claim three of the 3/3/3 nobles, which gets them pretty close to winning. Naturally, that all depends on the order of the cards, etc., but it's not crazy when it happens.

In fact, I had to convince myself that "grab as many cards as cheaply as possible" isn't the dominant strategy of this game. (I feel like it might be in 2-player, so we play 2-player to 20 points.) Of course, YMMV.


Most of the people I play with buy mostly Tier 1 cards as well because they are free. The Tier 1 cards inevitably run out for us. We have never run out of Tier 2 cards. When people buy lots of Tier 1 cards it seems easy to pick up nobles.

Also, in my games there just does not seem to be enough gem chips available to buy Tier 2 cards without really stockpiling Tier 1 cards for free.

There only seems to be two general strategies in my group: go after nobles by buying Tier 1 cards for free, and only (or primarily) purchasing cards worth points. Other people's strategy really seems to influence what works because of the limited availability of resources.
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Sonny Blount
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I had an awesome game last week.

The deal had the white/blue noble
The 2 7 white coin tier 3 cards for 4 and 5 pts
and 2 1st tier white discounts

The first player took coins that indicated he was after a tier 1 white discount
I shadowed his pickup with my usual intention of reserving the tier 1 card I want as soon as someone else has the chips to buy it
The 3rd player reserved one of the 7 white tier 3 cards
The 4th player took coins towards I think a green/red combo after seeing the 3 of us going white/blue

I reserved the tier 1 white discount that the 1st player had collected the coins for on the 2nd turn.
Then I could see the 3rd player was collecting towards the other tier 1 white discount (4 green coins) and I reserved that in my 3rd turn.
On my 4th turn I reserved the tier 3 7 white coins for 5 pts card.
I managed to build one of the tier 1 white discounts, and reserve another tier 1 white discount drop before the 3rd player could get it.
This effectively drove player 1 and 3 out of the white strategy as everyone was hoarding their white coins as well, but it was mush less expensive for player 1 to change tack who only took coins than player 3 who reserved a card he was unable to play during the game.
Because they gave up on the whiote strategy they spent their white coins and I won comfortably as the 2 7 blue drops came up on tier 3 and I had the blue discounts and coins for them. I never ended up getting the blue/white noble. I had 3 white discounts 5 blue discounts and 1 other points card down.

Reserving any more than 1 tier 1 discount is unusual for me (I usually reserve 1st a tier 1 discount and then the tier 3 points card for my strategy and leave my 3rd reserve open for tactical requirements) but in this case I needed to reserve 3 to drive away competition in my colour path. I never even built one of the tier 1 reserves.
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Aelfric Brewer
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That's what makes the game interesting. One player reveals his strategy, another player must decide whether to cripple that strategy, or try to race past him with a different strategy, or snipe that strategy for himself. What's the best use of your turn?

For this reason, I try to disguise my early strategy as long as possible. If I need five of one color for my first target, I don't start out by grabbing two of them, because if I do I know my wife will immediately counter by reserving that target.
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Marc Gilutin
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Alhambra
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Thanks, guys.....for helping me realize why I keep coming in last.
I've got some work to do.
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