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Subject: PG DEV KIT PLAYING TIPS rss

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Christopher Rao
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Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
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PG DEV KIT PLAYING TIPS
By Christopher Rama Rao (12.3.06)

1. Play big or play fast

The only bonus points come from finishing the fourth videogame (15 points) or finishing one of the top 3 videogames (20, 15 & 10 points). These bonuses are usually the difference between winning and losing, and games often end with a player one or two cards from ending the game when another player ends it first. So it’s important to make every turn count towards completing your videogames, and to make videogames quickly (to end the game before other players have a chance to build their monster-size videogames) and/or make monster-size videogames yourself. In general, you are better off with most of your videogames scoring below 15 points (fast!) or over 25 points (big!).

2. Don’t get clogged; don’t get caught short

Hand management is an important part of the game. Remember that cards in your hand are worth nothing at the end, just like unfinished videogames. Easter Eggs, Guardians and Power Ups are powerful cards, but it’s usually a mistake to hang onto these cards for a long time because it may mean that you’re not playing the two cards per turn that you could be – and your best cards may end up in your hand at the end of the game rather than getting you points.

On the other hand, if you play all your cards so you are down to 0 to 2 cards and you’re not finishing any videogames (to receive card bonuses), you will often end up short of the points you need to trade or win an auction, which can be especially deadly in a two-player game.

3. Have a plan to manage several projects at once

Some people like to finish 1 or 2 videogames at a time, others like to keep 3 or even 4 videogames open. Both can be viable strategies as long as you put yourself in a position that you can finish at least 1 or 2 of your open videogames if you really need to. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have no way to finish 3 open videogames and are desperately waiting for that one card you need to complete each open videogame.

One strategy that often works well is to build one big videogame slowly while finishing off smaller videogames quickly to get the cards to keep building the big videogame. This puts you in a position where you may be able to get bonus points both for ending the game and for having at least one videogame score you bonus points.

4. Don’t let special cards get you off track

The special cards – Easter Eggs, Power-Ups, Special Abilities, Guardians, Pink Godzilla, and Gear Upgrades – are clearly the most powerful cards in the game. But most cards are much more useful in some situations than others.

Venture Capital, for example, lets you draw 2 cards a turn if you keep your hand size down. This is an amazing card to get early in the game, but often not worth playing towards the end of the game. On the other hand, Holiday Rush (which lets you play 6 cards on one turn) is a great card to have near game end or when you have a lot of useful cards to play, but of nearly no use when your hand is low on cards. A Red Clone Special Ability is a great card to have if you or other players have already committed to a couple of red videogames, but not so good if there are no red videogames started, if 2 or 3 red videogames have already been completed, or if your rivals’ red videogames have 1 or 2 Gear Upgrades in them. Special Abilities are always worth 4 points each at game end, but remember they never give you bonus points.

Look at each special card you can get and see how it particularly helps your game. Don’t just get the card or play the card because you think it’s a “good card.” And above all, don’t be afraid to trade or auction away good cards to help you get the cards you need to reach your goals. Just be aware of how these cards can help other players. If you want to use a value 5 Potion to get another card or cards, for example, and another player needs a potion to finish his or her blue videogame, you may want to include it in an auction rather than trade it in. That way the other player can’t get it without a Good Guardian or an Exclusive License Special Ability.

5. Be aware of card combos for offense and defense

There are many many ways in which cards interact in PG Dev Kit. Some are fairly obvious, such as the Special Abilities Venture Capital and Hired Guns. One lets you get more cards if you have a hand size of three or less; the other lets you play more cards to get your hand size down. Others are less obvious, such as the powerful combo of Power-Ups Holiday Rush and Reorganization. With this combination, Holiday Rush lets you play your hand size down to 1, and then play Reorganization to scoop up the entire five-card Resource Row.

In addition to card combos that help you, it’s important to try blocking your rivals from combos that help them at your expense. For example, if you have a Blue Clone Special Ability Card played, a rival has a blue videogame started, and a Potion Upgrade comes up on your turn, you may want to grab it just to prevent your rival from playing it. Why? Because once his or her blue game finishes, the Upgrade card will grant him or her one of your clone bonus cards. Likewise, if you have active Clone Special Abilities on the board you probably don’t want to let another player have the Clone The Clone Power Up if you can help it - especially if that player is currently building a game you hope to clone.

6. Only auction when you have an advantage

Auctions are an opportunity to get 2 or 3 cards you may really need instead of just 1 for a trade, but there’s a big risk: if you lose the auction, not only will you lose the chance to trade for even one card, but the cards you need will end up in a rival’s hands. Greed has its costs. Remember that if you trade intelligently, getting a good card most turns will add up fast, with very little risk of helping your rivals.

So be careful and use auctions sparingly, when the risks are low and the rewards high:
• If you have lots of cards and your rivals have very few cards – especially if they seem to be holding onto 1 or 2 cards turn after turn – you have a good chance of winning an auction.
• If the cards you put up for auction are high value but not particularly useful to you or your rivals, then you have a good chance of auctioning for value (i.e., trade 7 points of cards for 11 points of cards).
• If you want to get a single card such as a value 4 Weapon and only have a 3-point card that you want to trade, you can put the Weapon up for auction. Remember that you win all ties, so either you will get the 4-point card for a small discount or someone else will pay full price. Note that this won’t work with most special cards, because someone will usually want the card.

7. Win the clone wars, or avoid them

Clones not only give you 4 points, but can often give you lots of extra cards throughout a game. This also neutralizes the advantage that rivals get when their games go gold. But playing clone cards can be tricky. If a rival has played a Weapon by itself, he or she hasn’t yet committed to whether the videogame will be Green or Red. So playing a Green Clone prematurely may convince the rival to build a Red videogame instead. So it’s often better to wait until rivals have committed to a color before revealing your Clone.

Note that Gear Upgrades do not give bonus cards unless a Clone is in play. So if a rival has 1 or 2 Gear Upgrades on an Orange videogame, you may wait to play your Orange Clone until after that videogame goes gold. Of course, you should also look to build Orange videogames if you have the Orange Clone. This way you will get 4 or 5 cards when you finish an Orange videogame (instead of 2 or 3).

8. Go gold when you have an advantage and when you need cards

Players will often wait to see how big a rival’s videogame is before finishing their own monster videogame, just a point or two bigger. So when you’re positioning a videogame to score bonus points, pay attention to how big your rivals’ videogames are shaping up to be. If you don’t really need the cards, it is often best to wait until very late in the game before going gold with your biggest videogame. Remember that if your videogame has all the required elements (title, character, 2 unique gear) you will get the points at game end anyway.

When building smaller videogames, finishing fast will give you more cards to help build your next videogame. Efficient timing in finishing these smaller videogames will also give you cards to build into your uber videogames. Just pay attention to the 7-card hand limit (especially if you are cloning your own game) - so you don't end up having to discard several cards after going gold because you are way over your hand limit.

9. Don’t get stuck without a title – and don’t get stuck at all

Characters are relatively easy to come by most of the time – there are 14 possible characters (6 of two basic characters, and 2 of the 3 Guardians) to fill one slot in any videogame – plus Pink Godzillas, which can act as wild cards for characters. There are also 8 of most Required Gear (Vehicles, Weapons, Combos), 4 of the other Required Gear (Potions, Accessories) and 2 Required Gear Wild Cards. But there are just 5 Title Cards of each color and there is no wild card for Titles. This means that it’s a bad idea to go into the end game hoping for a Title, a Potion or an Accessory to show up.

The exception to this, of course, is if you have an Exclusive License or Good Guardian, both of which will allow you to raid the discard pile to get the Title or Required Gear you need. Note that there’s a danger here as well – it often happens that just as you’re about to use one of these cards to help finish a videogame, the draw deck runs out, forcing the discard pile to be shuffled into a new draw deck. This effectively strips these cards of most of their power, because the new discard pile will be very very small. So always keep track of the end of the draw deck when using these cards.

10. Focus on playing for bonus points above all else

Remember that most games are won and lost on bonus points. If you’re making a monster videogame, you have to make sure that it’s monster enough – usually by Going Gold with it late in the game.

On the other hand, if you’re playing a speed game, ruthlessly avoid most special cards unless a specific card can help you in your goal of ending the game faster. In a speed game, the most important cards are actually the basic ones – Titles, Required Gear, and Characters.

Of course, these two strategies can be mixed, and usually are to some degree. But it’s important to recognize that what you’re shooting for are the bonus points, because the player with the most bonus points will win the game about 75% of the time.

CONCLUSION

Have fun playing PG Dev Kit. If you have more tips to share, or if you disagree with some of the tips here, you can post a comment on the forum at boardgamegeek.com, pgdevkit.com or email me directly at topher@elegantgamedesign.com. Enjoy!
 
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Hunter Shelburne
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I hope you don't have anything to do with that massive amount of shill ratings on your game shake
 
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Christopher Rao
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Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
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Hunter,

I am the game designer, and I completely understand why the ratings on this game look like "shill ratings." I reviewed the BGG rules at length to ensure that I wasn't violating any rules. I then asked everyone who played the game to rate it - specifically telling them that I didn't care what rating they gave the game (ask any of them, if you like).

When you're published by a small game company with limited distribution, it's just hard to get any ratings at all. And without ratings, you can't get a ranking. Added to this is the fact that most of the core group of players are video game fans, not board game fans - and they don't usually come to bgg.

You may wish to look at the published reviews the game has received, as well, from playfeed.com, housefullofgames.com, and a variety of blogs.

Respectfully,

Christopher Rama Rao

 
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John Harley
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I wanted this game really badly. Then I lost my job as a PS3 game designer and wasn't interested at all.

This guide put the game back on my radar, but I'd really rather pick it up from a brick and mortar store in Toronto rather than through the internet.

I guess I'll wait and see.
 
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