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Subject: Is there even a (clean) produce/ship strategy? rss

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Simon Kamber
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I will start by confessing that I have only played Race a couple of times, and have not played Roll anywhere near enough to be a strong player (15 games or so, mostly 2-player).

However, it is my impression that produce/ship is much less a distinct 'thing' in Roll than it is in Race. As I understand it, a produce/consume strategy in (two-player?)race aims to reach a point where the player calls produce and consume pretty much exclusively, while occasionally leeching on other calls by the opponent.

In Roll, I have seen this happen once. More often, I find myself in a position where I'm calling a wider variety of phases. So even with a novelty-consuming strategy, I could be:

- producing
- consuming
- realizing that the dice want me to call settle this round
- producing again
- finding that I have so much money that it would be a waste to ship my white die from a yellow world, so I build a development and spend my money putting the dice back in cup
- consuming, using the white die to get my money back.

Now, even though this strategy focuses on consuming, it seems like it would be less effective to stick to producing and consuming, than to be open to opportunity. So produce/consume is less a question of 'building an engine', and more about weighing your tableau more or less heavily towards exploiting production/consumption opportunities.

Is that the experience of other players as well? And if not, how do you go about setting up an engine that can produce/consume reliably without wasting economy and outlier die rolls?
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Andrew B
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Because consuming a good can get you three points or more it is still a very valid strategy.

I think the trick when starting a produce-consume strategy is to get a good pool of dice quickly, you will most certainly need at least two or three cyan dice, purple dice are quite useful as well.

Yes, you can distribute dice to other phases as well but I believe that you should also get some reassign powers to allow you to focus on producing and consuming. The trick then becomes whether you pick ship or produce, you need to figure out if any of the other players are going to pick any of them. If nobody else is involved in producing and consuming it's going to be a bit rough, but that isn't usually the case.

I've won two of my last three games and tied and lost the tiebreaker in the other one using a consume strategy. It's there and it's viable. The really neat thing about Roll for the Galaxy is that everything seems to be much more in flux. Like you mentioned, in two player Race for the Galaxy some games just feel completely scripted. Because of the die roll and ways to work around it the game is much more tense in Roll for the Galaxy.
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Jordan Booth
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andrewbwm wrote:
The trick then becomes whether you pick ship or produce, you need to figure out if any of the other players are going to pick any of them. If nobody else is involved in producing and consuming it's going to be a bit rough

QFT, even more so than in Race you need to watch your opponents and match their plays to squeeze out as many immediate produce/ship turns as possible. I am watching my opponent more when I'm doing a consume strategy more than any other strategy. Also once you get 3 worlds and 6 dice that you can ship for 3vp each just focus on points, don't even worry about leeching other phases, that is taking dice away from your economy. I've found the best consume setup is for brown because you can get the +1 VP for brown goods and get 4VP for each consume.
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Andrew B
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Born-of-Ashes wrote:
I've found the best consume setup is for brown because you can get the +1 VP for brown goods and get 4VP for each consume.


The starting tile gives you credits when consuming, not VPs. Space Refineries gives you +1 VP for each brown good you consume, so you need to get it. I mostly see that as an augmentation to a good engine already running.

Brown is definitely a good option, getting one credit when consuming for VPs makes sure you can afford putting those workers in the cup. However, nothing beats Consumer Markets, it is crazy powerful for a consume strategy. Galactic Religion is a pretty good starting tile for the produce-consume combo as well, the irony of it all is not wasted.

Cyan dice are just so good at it, 5/6 of those faces are useful, that's huge. Brown dice are just 3/6, you'll need to have reassign powers to get that working consistently.

 
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Andrew E
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If produce/ship can keep up with "build a bunch of stuff" (tm), I haven't seen it happen. There's pages and pages of text here arguing in favor of shipping by comparing 2 dice for 3 vp vs building 2 dice for 2 vp plus explore costs, but I've played probably 30 games by this point and never seen a winner with more than maybe 15 vp chips in front of them, and not for a lack of trying.

The problems with produce/ship are many:
- Getting that magical 3vp ship basically requires 2 worlds of that color
- Having dice sit on your worlds as goods represents unavoidable inefficiency.
- You're at the mercy of the dice. If you want to produce and the dice don't cooperate, it's bad (you aren't likely to have great devs or worlds lying around waiting to be built - you'll have mediocre ones that you may or may not be able to finish in a single turn). If you want to ship and the dice don't cooperate, it's a disaster because it's all the plus you have a bunch of produce dice that don't do anything for another turn. So a reassign power becomes critical, delaying you.
- Predicting other players and drafting off of them effectively is hard. If you aren't calling develop or settle, you're much more likely to end up with dice sitting on unfinished developments and worlds. More inefficiency.

Meanwhile, strategy "build a bunch of stuff" (tm) has seemingly all the advantages:
- Doing lots of early exploring where you dig through two or three dozen tiles is a pretty consistent way of finding a great combo. (of course holding enough back to roll all your dice next turn)
- Reassign powers are totally unnecessary because military dice are everything you want and nothing you don't, and they're easy to come by. (of course, if you find a huge combo with, say, two of the dev-focused 6-devs, dropping a reassign power to do developments only is a price well worth paying)
- If somebody is trying to produce/ship against you, it's easy to get a huge return drafting on him by sticking even one die onto produce/ship. Ironically, it's easier for you to get a few of those 3vp ships because you're not trying to use all your dice on it.
- It's much easier to finish big devs and worlds in a single turn when you have a big pile of military dice to do it.
- Finishing worlds and developments gives you powers and income in addition to the vp, and since you went digging in the early-midgame, they're gonna be good. I've started to appreciate the value of dropping huge worlds not for the amazing green and yellow dice, not for the value of trading off of them, but simply because they give me back 2-4 dice instantly. That 3-dev that reduces the cost of green/yellow worlds? Solid gold.
- It's much easier to control the tempo of the game. I've had more than one game where I lucked into an incredible set of powers for produce/ship (which I do pursue, in the name of science), which I lost anyways because the "build a bunch of stuff" (tm) players can control the length of the game. I see you're shipping this turn. I'll build my fat developments. I see you're producing this turn. I'll build 3 cheap worlds I set up for exactly this purpose of cutting off the game at the optimal moment for me.
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Pete Goch
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AndrewE wrote:


this point and never seen a winner with more than maybe 15 vp chips in front of them, and not for a lack of trying.


I often see 20-30 vps depending on player count. Most games I've played are 5 player.

Quote:
The problems with produce/ship are many:
- Getting that magical 3vp ship basically requires 2 worlds of that color


This is what the purple dice are for. Cheap Blue worlds and purple dice are needed for the best consume engines.


Quote:
- Having dice sit on your worlds as goods represents unavoidable inefficiency.



No more or less than do dice sitting out on expensive devs or worlds. Really, the only way a dev or settle strategy can truly compete on a dice to points ratio is with a dev that discounts devs or settles.


Quote:
- You're at the mercy of the dice. If you want to produce and the dice don't cooperate, it's bad (you aren't likely to have great devs or worlds lying around waiting to be built - you'll have mediocre ones that you may or may not be able to finish in a single turn). If you want to ship and the dice don't cooperate, it's a disaster because it's all the plus you have a bunch of produce dice that don't do anything for another turn. So a reassign power becomes critical, delaying you.


Again, blue and purple dice are your friends.


Quote:
- Predicting other players and drafting off of them effectively is hard. If you aren't calling develop or settle, you're much more likely to end up with dice sitting on unfinished developments and worlds. More inefficiency.



When you dabble in explore make sure to pick cheap devs and worlds. Then, when you draft a dev or an explore they'll go out quickly. Ideally these are more blue worlds and devs with powers that passively earn you credits. And, you can always recall developers and settlers at the end of the round if you like.

It's also nice to have one high value good that you can occasionally trade for credits.


It's also helpful, as has been mentioned, to watch your opponents carefully. It's not uncommon to be able to hit a cycle where you produce and an opponent ships allowing you to produce goods and ship them all in one round. That can be devastating and there's nothing else that quite matches it for efficiency.
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Tom Lehmann
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I really don't want to interrupt a great strategy debate. But, I do want to point out that "group-think" can easily skew different groups' observed results.

If, in a given group, everyone builds, then the game will end on buildings, not VP chips. Some many build faster, some slower, but the winner is going to have built a full tableau.

If, in another given group, everyone ships, then the game will end on VP chips, not tableau. Some may earn more VP chips, others fewer, but the winner is going to have lots of VP chips.

The "odd person out" in each group may experience problems -- either by not being able to drain the VP pool fast enough to prevent players from building lots of high-scoring 6-devs or by having the VP pool drain before the builder can get down his or her high scoring devs.

Part of the game is adapting to your opponents' play styles.

Whether or not the game is *structurally* biased one way or another is best tested by playing 4-player games where two players concentrate on shipping and two players concentrate on building their tableaus.
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It certainly helps your produce/ship strategy if somebody is calling produce or ship quite often. Selecting the produce/ship phase alone makes it harder but it is still possible to win that way.
 
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Andrew E
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TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
This is what the purple dice are for. Cheap Blue worlds and purple dice are needed for the best consume engines.

I don't understand how purple dice help a blue shipper. For the cost of a purple die I could get two blue dice, which is twice as good. If I want to ship for 9vp, I need 6 blue or purple dice, and purple dice cost about twice as much to get. The only reason I'd get them is if I'm trying to ship colors other than blue, and even then they still strike me as about $1 too expensive.

Quote:
Quote:
- Having dice sit on your worlds as goods represents unavoidable inefficiency.

No more or less than do dice sitting out on expensive devs or worlds. Really, the only way a dev or settle strategy can truly compete on a dice to points ratio is with a dev that discounts devs or settles.

Dice sitting on expensive devs and worlds is avoidable. If I have 3 military dice and 6 other dice to roll, it's entirely possible I can drop a 6 dev in a single turn, avoiding that inefficiency. It's something I can overcome with a good enough engine, rather than a permanent blight I just have to live with. (obviously sometimes it makes sense to bite the bullet and build over two rounds)

I feel like focusing on the dice to points ratio is looking at the game all wrong. There's pennies to be made converting dice to vp more efficiently (and it's a rare game indeed that digging through 2 dozen tiles doesn't flip up at least one or two that gives discounts or rebates on either devs or worlds (rebates are nearly as good and a lot cheaper), and as I mentioned, big worlds come with a substantial rebate for free, on top of any others that you might have), but the real money is in who has the better engine to pick up as many dice as they can every turn, and it's harder to come by one of those while you're also trying to get 4-6 blue dice in play.

Quote:
It's also helpful, as has been mentioned, to watch your opponents carefully. It's not uncommon to be able to hit a cycle where you produce and an opponent ships allowing you to produce goods and ship them all in one round. That can be devastating and there's nothing else that quite matches it for efficiency.

But if an opponent predictably ships, that implies that he called produce last turn and you missed the boat. But catching up has value, so that's fine. Now it's the next turn and people don't have goods. Do you bet an entire turn on shipping assuming he'll call produce for you? Maybe that's too much risk, but you could also call explore hoping for the produce for less risk and less reward. But you look across the table and he's looking at you, asking the exact same questions about whether you'll call produce for him. Build a bunch of stuff (tm) has no such wine-in-front-of-me problems. It's still beneficial to draft a bunch of money and/or a 3vp ship out of a reliable produce/shipper, but you're betting individual dice on their actions, rather than half a turn or more.

I can easily see how produce/ship will smash everything if you can get both called every turn, but getting it to happen much without shooting yourself in the foot often or obliging opponents seems like an open question.

I will certainly grant that produce/ship is better at 5 exactly because situations where you can substantially produce and ship on the same turn will come up more often. I usually play at 3 or 4.

I will continue to try to produce and ship whenever I have a board that tells me to, because I really do like this game, but my frustration is growing.
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Wojciech Kochaniak
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IMHO you are not looking at the big picture here - there is no 'winning strategy' in any RFTG game. You employ the most efficient methods to get the most points in order to win the game. Sometimes it is Dev / Settle. Sometimes it is Produce / Consume. Usually, it is a bit of both. The attitude: I am doing Produce / Consume because I managed to get 3 production worlds early will lose you 80-90% of the games.

What you need to do is adapt to the playstyle of your opponents, predict their moves and always use optimal means of achieving your goal - hybrid strategies are usually the best, as they can be adapted to the board state quickly. That's not to say that they will always win - sometimes it is beter to just settle and develop as quickly as possible. Everything depends on the your opponents' tableaus and your own situation.

As for betting - there is no such thing in this family of games. What you want is 'acceptable risk'. If a play is worth this risk - go for it. If it is not, don't. It is really that simple. Sometimes the risky play is always the right play, which is true for all card games - whenever you are losing badly, you need to get lucky. That's when you must embrace variance and, for example, count on other people calling ship when you are producing.

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Richard Dewsbery
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andrewbwm wrote:
However, nothing beats Consumer Markets, it is crazy powerful for a consume strategy.


I see your Consumer Markets, and raise you a Genetics Lab. Once you have 2 green goods, you'll have enough cash to do pretty much anything; if you can get three green goods, you struggle to spend the money fast enough! With the wild faces, the green dice can be used as goods 50% of the time. I chucked Merchant Guild back in the bag the last time I drew it when playing with a green consume-produce strategy - I was regularly topping out at $10 without it. Throw in Minor Research Labs and you have a VP juggernaut - 3VPs each time you ship even with white dice. Alternatively build Organic Shipyards and you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
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Richard Dewsbery
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What dice you have - and what they roll - have a big impact on being able to execute a particular strategy.

What tiles you draw - and when you build them - have a big impact on being able to execute a particular strategy.

What your opponents are up to - and how you can benefit from it, or prevent them from benefitting from your turns - has a big impact on being able to execute a particular strategy.

What that strategy actually *is* (prod/ship, tableau rush, or something else) matters far less IME.
 
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Pete Goch
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AndrewE wrote:
TheOneTrueZeke wrote:
This is what the purple dice are for. Cheap Blue worlds and purple dice are needed for the best consume engines.

I don't understand how purple dice help a blue shipper.


More ship faces. You're more likely to ship all your goods in one round with purple dice than just blue. Particularly if you already have all your blue dice out on their respective worlds.

//edit//

And develop. I just realized this - blue has no develop faces. Purple has a develop face and a wild card. Including the wild card face purple will allow you to allocate it: 66% Ship, 33% Explore, 33% Develop or 17% Any.

Purple shores up the no dev weaknesses of blue dice. Blue allows you a 50% produce or ship, a 33% explore and 17% Any (again with the wild card face) but no develop face.

Mix in a brown world or two for even more development leaching goodness. Mix in a green or two for more settle leaching. Mix in a yellow for, well, wild card goodness and a really good trade.


Quote:

Dice sitting on expensive devs and worlds is avoidable. If I have 3 military dice and 6 other dice to roll, it's entirely possible I can drop a 6 dev in a single turn, avoiding that inefficiency.


Then you have 6 dice you need to buy back from your citizenry with none of them able to explore/stock or ship/trade a good to pay for them. With a prod/consume you can always choose to trade one of the goods to buy your citizens back without relying on a separate phase to occur.

Quote:
I feel like focusing on the dice to points ratio is looking at the game all wrong.


It's not the only consideration but it's important.


Quote:
but the real money is in who has the better engine to pick up as many dice as they can every turn, and it's harder to come by one of those while you're also trying to get 4-6 blue dice in play.



That I doubt. It's no harder than trying to get 4-6 developers and settlers out to put out a large dev/world and buy them all back without a good to trade. Finding all the right devs that passively give you credits or dice back on dev/settle is no easier or harder than finding similar devs that pay you to consume or produce.

I haven't spreadsheeted all the tiles to see just how all the powers are distributed (and I'm not really interested in doing so) but I'd be very surprised if Wei Hwa and Tom didn't scrutinize this very closely themselves.

You're also not going to try to get every single good out every round when you're still building your engine. Do you try to seriously run a blue engine in Race without some draw on produce powers? It's a good way to get stomped by a settle/dev spammer. You need to set up all the pieces of your engine before you can fully crank it.


Quote:
I can easily see how produce/ship will smash everything if you can get both called every turn, but getting it to happen much without shooting yourself in the foot often or obliging opponents seems like an open question.


It doesn't have to happen every round to give you a serious edge. Just once will give you an edge. 2-3 times can pretty much give you the game.
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Matthew Hart

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I think a Produce/Ship strategy is viable, but you need to set it up right (and get some good rolls). I've played quite a few 2-player games so you always have that random chance to get the extra Produce/Ship that you need for the combo.

That being said, I really had one game where I said to myself "Self, let's do Produce/Ship and try to win". I had a decent set-up (extra blue die and purple die to start). A settled a blue planet and a yellow planet right away. So I had blue and yellow planet I could use for shipping. I eventually got a second yellow to help with money. I was trying to deplete the VP pool quickly, but I had some bad rolls and I was never able to sync up the Produce/Ship on the same turn. It didn't help that my brother scored 66 points in the end...

I like the Produce/Ship to supplement other game styles. I set up some great endings to a few games by stocking up my goods and depleting the VP pool with a big Ship action. Score 11+ points that way can make the difference, especially if you catch you opponents off guard.
 
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Jason Hewitt
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I've only done 2 games, but last night I killed on a produce ship strategy but it was facilitated by the developments I had.

* Starting development gave $1 per blue die in citizenry when developing
* Only settled blue or green worlds
* Built development that gives you extra White Yellow Die for explore to quickly get money
* Built development that gives you extra Green White Die when shipping
* Built development that lets you store 2 goods on each world.
* Built development that gives you 2 additonal blue die by sacrificing one other die.

With the above combo,
* Every time someone explored or developed I would get plenty of money to put dice back in my cup.
* Shipping was much easier with the 2 free shipping die
* With dictate, you can easily move one of your blue or green die to the producing.
* You could even double produce sometimes to set up a strong ship round.


 
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Tom McVey
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Won handily with consumer markets starting tile, settled two blue worlds, explored to get the tile that got an extra $2 in the produce phase and the one with two free shippers each ship turn. Don't think I used explore/stock for income once, as each produce phase was netting me $6 income.

The two free shippers was awesome 'cos I didn't have to commit many shipping dice to leech shipping turns, and I didn't have to spend income to regenerate those dice.

Normally I hate hate hate produce/ship and blue worlds, but this worked really well.
 
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Tom McVey
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For what it's worth, my kid usually does produce/ship strategy and has consistently kicked my ass for 11 games straight.
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Justin R
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I was about to start this exact thread...glad I checked first.

Everything I've wanted to say has been said. I am definitely in the camp of never seeing produce/consume come even close, averaging a 15-point loss in 2p games using produce/consume.

If I try to come up with a reason, I think it is that produce/consume execution in this game is vastly different than in Race, which is where I am faltering. In Race (the base game, at least) you could have three worlds/developments in your tableau and consume/produce for the game quite easily. Additional building is a luxury either to tweak your engine or for a big 6-dev score for the icing on the cake. In Roll, I suspect the strategy is only viable with a more finely tuned engine. You want to have 6-7 worlds/tech before it becomes worth it.

Thinking about this has sparked two criticisms of the game. Let me preface this by saying that I love the game and will insta-buy every expansion for it. I am eager to hear, though, if any others feel similarly, because I am suspect I have suffered instances of just awful luck at times and that others will disagree:

1) Starting world/faction point values feel unbalanced. Abilities on high-cost tiles generally are superior (I would argue vastly so) to abilities on low-cost tiles. This also appears to be true for starting worlds/factions. It makes sense from a balancing point of view for tiles drawn from the bag, as you have to work harder and devote more resources to place the high-cost tiles. But that justification does not apply to starting worlds/factions.

2) Drawing the highest point tiles gives you a significant advantage. I always felt that Race was about synergies, and that even drawing low-point cards I had a chance to win because I could speed up the game meaningfully. I don't think the same strategy is very obviously possible in Race. Part of the reason is that resources and building options are disjointed, and enhancing both is inefficient: where a handful of cards in Race means building a 6-point in one round with more left over for next round or building 4 settlements over the next two rounds, Roll halves that economy. But I also think the higher point cards in Race did not have nearly as devastating powers attached to them (e.g., Galactic Federation is its own synergy). A simple response might be "well this isn't Race, nor does it purport to be!". Fair, but balance is balance, and if that element of Race contributes to how crisp the experience is, then a difference here would require balance otherwise.

Just some thoughts. Love the game.
 
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