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Subject: Indonesia for three (some musings about strategy) rss

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Viktor Haag
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Kitchener/Waterloo
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One of my regular guests is very, very enthusiastic about this game, and I like it a lot as well. And with these longer heavier games, often the more you play, the more reward you get, and the better and better time you have on subsequent playing.

Because the last time we played my shipping strategy was a bold-faced disaster, I decided to try and replicate the path to victory for the winner of the last game. My first two companies were a spice and a shipping company. Then, I sold off my shipping company through a merger to get capital, and acquired a rice company in the just created empty slot. On the following turn, I had enough capital to protect the merger of my own two companies into a microwave dinner company, and acquired another spice company.

My strategy this time was all about generating capital and using it to ladder up production companies. After that initial sell off of my shipping line, I stayed well clear of shipping. I diversified and expanded as much as I could, even though it meant turns without free expansions (one of the other players purposefully kept his shipping company away from my goods fields, and so I couldn't use both remaining shipping lines to move goods).

I cemented my victory with three hostile takeovers: first I force-merged two rubber companies both owned by my competitors and purchased the result. Then, in the end-game, I forced the merger between my oil company and one of my competitors, and followed that up the next turn with a forced merger between my oil company and one from my other competitor. In the last era of the game, I owned a third of the microwave dinner production, all the rubber production, and three quarters of the oil production.

However, I still only managed to win by a few hundred dollars, leaving me believing that I wasn't quite as efficient during play as I thought, and my strategy was "expensive". But it still proved several sound principles to me:

• Get out of shipping in the early game, and use the capital generated to fund expansion and diversity of production companies.

• Don't over pay for mergers. Most important corollary: the most profitable merger you can make is to take one of your spice and one of your rice and merge them into a microwave dinner company. If at all possible you must do this, and you must do it early. Make sure you have enough capital to protect this merger, but timing can also help you: if you do it when no other player has an extra slot, for example, or the one who does have a slot is cash poor.

After three plays, I still have yet to see a shipping magnate do well. In my opinion, shipping companies are a mill-stone and a necessary evil. You need to have access to shipping in the early game to generate capital, but owning it yourself should only be done as a last resort. Shipping doesn't pay well, it occupies slots, and shipping companies are volatile because they're relatively cheap to take over.

Of course, if everyone in the game views shipping as a necessary evil, then disposing of a shipping line you own may prove difficult (no-one else will propose a merger, and if you do, you'll get stuck owning it, and liberating someone else's slot and paying them money).

I anticipate that we'll play this game one or two more times in the next while, so I may have more to say on it in the near future. Then, I anticipate we'll move on to another longer game.
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Eric Poolman
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viktor_haag wrote:
the most profitable merger you can make is to take one of your spice and one of your rice and merge them into a microwave dinner company.


While I think Siap Faji companies have their place, I have to ask if you're playing the part of the rule where Siap Faji plantation chits replace only *half* of the merging companies' chits.
 
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Viktor Haag
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Absolutely. This works out to be a blessing in disguise, or at least it has in our games, as in many cases, widely separated plantations have been merged, so you can remove plantations to your advantage (ones that would give too much profit to shipping for example). Also, early merging into Siap Faji leaves you lots of time to make up for that loss (i.e. when you merge a three token and a two token company, it typically takes you only a couple turns to make up for that loss of profit).
 
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