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Subject: Strategy principles in Archipelago rss

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Silly Words
Australia
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Firstly, I'll start off by saying I'm a strategy freak and I like complex games and even more I like picking them apart to find better strategies. Archipelago is however a bitch as far as strategies go. It's kind of a game where you have to do everything at once, in order to have a chance of winning. And then there are several cards that blow away any strategy you may have had the previous round e.g suddenly the Spy card is there (5c to look at someone else's win criteria) and so getting money to use that is really important OR there is a double harvest for cows or some other resource. So you have to be flexible. Nevertheless, I think some strategy aspects are essential and some are more important than others.

Below is a list of strategically important aspects. I've classified them according to priority. It is based on the middle length game. Slight variations are relevant for the long game. The short game is just luck, just win the group criteria and your own and hope for the best. You could go on forever, but I think these are the most important points.

Essential points (because they pertain to victory points)

1) Deduce what the other players objectives are and harvest/build accordingly. For example, if you suspect someone has the number of churches as a victory criteria, then building enough churches to finish at least third is a must.
2) Win your own victory criteria. Only you know it, so you must win it.
3) Make sure you're at least second on the group criteria. You don't have to go into a war to win it diverting all your resources to this one goal. Being second is good enough, winning your own criteria is more important.

Most important points

4) Be a generalist. Try and have one of each resource lying spare around towards the end of the game. Even buy them later in the game if you have to. A single fish or cow might be enough for 2 victory points at the end.
5) Keep some cash lying around at the end. If there is a tie for first, then most cash wins.
6) Getting access to stone, or preventing access to stone for others is very important. You need stone to build ports, churches and towns and towns are involved in several of the victory points criteria (number of churches, towns with wood, towns with iron)
7) If there is a 2x harvest card and you have access to two or more of that resource, then you must buy that card at any cost before other people turn it so that card dies.
8) The best places to build towns are in hexes with wood or iron because they are potential victory criteria. The next best is on hexes with stone, because you prevent other people getting this resource.
9) building markets or ports early as possible, before the town, is a good idea. They effectively give you an extra action. Try to build them on a hex that fits the criteria in point 8 above.
10) If you can afford to buy a character card with victory points on it where you don't have to lose an action e.g. the pope, then do it. Every victory point counts.
11) If you can afford the spy, then buy it. Especially when there are five players. Finding out the other players winning criteria is really important and worth the money. If you know the criteria, then you more or less force other people to find out the same, and you then earn money with your card.

Other points

12) Breed or purchase workers early, so that you can explore effectively.
13) Exploring is cool. You get the extremely useful token (building +crisis defence), a resource token, the domestic market becomes more crisis resistant and you have more area to plan around. It is sensible to have migrated your ships to the edges of the continent that you have made, in case you want to occupy the new hex with your boat.
14) If you want to go first, then bid for it properly. Don't try and steal it with one or two coins. Usually you want to harvest before someone else or tap some card. Do it with your first action. If you need coins later you can always trade or tax.
15) Don't go nuts at the beginning breeding and buying workers. You need to have a market or port before you have more than six meeple. Otherwise there won't be enough stuff in the domestic market to fight crisis's and people can leave your meeples down and the rebels increase too quickly.
16) Buy at least a second boat. Excellent for sea convoys and migration and for fishing.

I think other strategy points are less important than these 16 points above. I don't see any of the remaining character cards being such a much-have above them. I also don't think it matters whether you harvest pineapples, fish, wood or whatever. The 2c extra export income for a pineapple is not a game winning event. Cash crisis can always be dealt with via taxing.

So, what have I missed or ranked incorrectly in your opinion?

Regards

SW
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Ben Skellett
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
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A wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel and a hippopotamus. That would be absurd.
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And the older you get, the fewer things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it's only one or two things. With me, I think it's one.
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Lots of good advice here. I particularly agree with this one.

SillyWords wrote:
15) Don't go nuts at the beginning breeding and buying workers. You need to have a market or port before you have more than six meeple. Otherwise there won't be enough stuff in the domestic market to fight crisis's and people can leave your meeples down and the rebels increase too quickly.


I think it's quite important to get a source of income going (that doesn't require taxing) & to start getting goods to market for crises. It's not good to have no cash in this game.

I also like to get a few churches built (among the group) to help out with crises.

Perhaps you can tell that I've had quite a few games end in rebellion...
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Pim van der Asdonk
Netherlands
Nijmegen
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Great post!

Maybe one to add:

- Always pay back your debts early game to other players. If you don't, it will come back to haunt for your next couple of games. People won't help you out with small loans, gifts, turn etc. since you are branded in being unreliable.
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