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March of the Ants» Forums » Strategy

Subject: First round is always hard for someone rss

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Adam Reeves
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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I have played the game about 4-5 times now, and even though I haven't won yet I still have found the game to be enjoyable. That's not the case for everyone I have played with though.

The reason being, the first round is really tight on resources and someone inevitably gets into an early battle and loses. An early battle has major consequences: losing all ants, playing a card (down to one card), food resources have already been used for other actions, left with no collection sites, and left with few larvae.

I try to teach the game that ants are social and only battle for resources that they actually need, but inevitably players are quick to jump into battle. Is there any other advice or strategies I should be teaching players to survive so they don't feel like they have just loss the entire game in the first round?
 
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Stephen Karmol
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In my play experience, it is almost always disadvantageous to engage in battle on the first turn of the game. It is really important to have your colony's economy up and running first; knowing there will be casualties, you need to have enough ants remaining in the Meadow to collect needed resources.

After a game or two of early combat, with the resulting austerity, lack of options, and general "how can I ever catch up?!" frustration that usually comes as a result, I see players adjust their strategy accordingly. It seems there is always one player Marching on the first turn (often the second-to-last or last player's first action is spent this way). I recommend responding with a March to evacuate the contested hex, and using your following first-turn reactions from Explore and March to make sure you occupy four collection sites at the end of the first round. That is always my goal, as it provides the foundation to grow your economy.

If you play with new players who haven't learned the hard truth about the costliness of early battle, or are playing with someone who just wants to battle regardless, I recommend this type of strategic retreating. Alternatively, you can house rule "No ant battle on the first turn." The design team did not want to railroad players this way in the rules, but your play group could certainly decide to!
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мąççą
Singapore
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I am a victim of such a mentality, to go into war the very first round, and because of that I suffered my first loss in my first game. There are several reviews that explains why combat is not the main focus in MOTA but for someone who is first time playing this "disguised" euro game, they may just see warfare as a way of dominating other players.

I have some solution that I can depending on the mix of my game group:

1. Let them suffer their first loss devil This is recommended for regular board gamers who can adapt & learn quickly in subsequent plays.
2. For more casual gamers, you can try a co-op or a run--through game with them to let them know the basics & experience the effects of their choice.
3. If the earlier two are not applicable, I suggest a variant to the starting set-up. Allow each player to choose a starting hex and place their starting ant in the hex they place beside the Great Tunnel. This way, there is space for players to maneuver their ants out to other sites, rather than clustering in 1 hex only.

I believe with more experience and explanations, everyone will be able to understand and enjoy this satisfying 1 hour euro
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Ben Eisner
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Portland
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A variant I've been thinking about for beginning players that might work for battle-hungry players is this:

Unformed Mandibles: During the first round, casualties are returned to the larva chamber rather than destroyed.

This mitigates the cost of battle a little bit.
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Ryan Swisher
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I think you all make great points and i’m curious how your variant ideas play out. We are always looking for feedback.

One thing that might affect your first round choice to Explore or March, is the knowledge there are only 2 starting hexes per player. The starting hexes are considered “safe” and always have a source of food and are free of centipedes. In a four-or-less player where every player chooses to explore twice first turn, the end game scores will be higher, because of this consistent start.

When an aggressive player marches instead of explores, the are giving the other players the chance to draw and lock down the remaining safe, starting hexes. In the second round, when the aggressive player does decide to explore they are getting into the “outer meadow” where some hexes lack food and there is about a 25% chance of centipede. The centipede itself is food, if you have the extra ants or cards to actually kill it. Encountering centipedes and not having the ants or cards to fight them is devastating for a fledgling colony.

I think there are times where a player can succeed by attacking first round, but its risky. It also changes the game and players must react to the belligerent colony, and focus their economy to take advantage of less contested resources. The end game scoring becomes extra important, to counter the points the aggressive ant earned for winning battles and controlling the inner hexes.

Here is my advice to starting players if another player marches into your territory, and you want to “retreat”: Sacrifice the ants from hex by paying for a head evolution. As long as you still control at least one other starting hex, you will have a source of food, and your early development of a head evolution will deter further invasion.
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